We’re never more aware of our breasts than in October when, worldwide, breast cancer awareness campaigns kick into action to draw attention to this potentially fatal disease. Here are four ways to help improve your chances against cancer:
1 Commit to an hour of aerobic exercise…
Exercise at least three or four times a week. Studies show that you’ll lower your risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 40%. Any exercise is beneficial, but high-intensity workouts cut hormone levels the most drastically. A five-year study of more than 25 000 women, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that women who exercised for four hours a week during leisure time, had a 37% reduction in the incidence of breast cancer.
2 Halt weight gain before it starts
An abundance of research has shown that piling on the kilos ups your chances of developing breast cancer after menopause. One study found that postmenopausal women who had gained 25kg or more since the age of 18 had a 45% higher risk of breast cancer than those who maintained their weight.
3 Quit smoking…
And urge your friends to do the same too. Tobacco smoke, a known carcinogen, is bad for breasts – and not only for the smoker herself. Canadian researchers recently found that regular exposure to second-hand smoke may increase a non-smoker’s risk of breast cancer by as much as 27%.
4 Breast-feed your baby
Dr Anne McTiernan, director of the Prevention Centre at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle in the US, says, ’Nursing suppresses levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Each additional month you do it confers additional protection.’