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Breast Cancer: What Can You do to Reduce Your Risk?

Oct 19, 2021

Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among American women apart from skin cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.

Dr. Randy Balmforth, Radiologist at Heartland Regional Medical Center said, “Many of the risk factors associated with breast cancer can’t be controlled, including family history of the disease and an increased risk that comes with age.”

However, there are some lifestyle choices you can make to help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer:

Stay active. Maintaining a healthy weight can significantly reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Being overweight, especially after menopause, has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Because fat cells produce estrogen, being overweight can cause an overabundance of estrogen leading to breast cancer cells.

Limit alcohol intake. Drinking can lead to an increased risk of breast cancer in women, even in small amounts. According to the American Cancer Society, women who drink one alcoholic beverage each day have an approximately 10% increase in cancer risk compared to women who don’t consume alcohol.

Avoid smoking. If you smoke or use nicotine products, consider quitting as soon as possible. Smoking is linked to an increased risk of developing several types of cancer, and the risk increases the younger you are when you begin smoking.

Be proactive about your health. Above all else, it’s vital to be proactive about mammograms and screenings for breast cancer. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many have delayed routine doctors’ appointments. According to estimates from the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly four million breast cancer screenings did not happen during the pandemic.

“This seemingly small decision to reschedule for a later date can delay a life-threatening diagnosis and treatment,” explains Dr. Balmforth. “Make sure you are scheduling regular checkups with your doctor. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the higher the survival rate.”

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, reach out to your doctor right away:

  • A new lump on the breast or armpit
  • Pain on any part of the breast
  • Any discharge from the nipple other than milk
  • Change in breast shape or size
  • Red, irritated or flaky skin on the nipple

If you have any concerns about your breast cancer risk, don’t hesitate to reach out to a doctor. Heartland Regional can help. Call us at 618-998-7628 today for more information or to schedule a screening.