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Family Living Focus: Breast Cancer: Ways to lower your risk

It is true that certain risk factors for breast cancer are beyond a woman’s control such as family history and aging. Fortunately, researchers are finding that certain lifestyle choices may lower risk.

Cut the Fat. High-fat diets may lead to higher rates of breast cancer, although exactly why is not certain. Choose foods high in fiber, such as beans, bran, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

Maintain a Healthy Weight. Obesity may be linked with breast cancer, especially for women over the age of 50 so it is important to maintain your weight.

Stay Active. Exercise may help prevent breast cancer. One study found that women who exercised at least four hours a week cut their breast cancer risk by 60%, while those who worked out 1 – 3 hours a week reduced their risk by 30%.

Limit Alcohol if You Drink. Studies have linked alcohol abuse to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Don’t Smoke. You already know smoking causes lung cancer. Smoking also increases the risk of many other cancers. Smokers may be more than twice as likely to develop breast cancer as nonsmokers.

Keep Screening. Do monthly self-exams and see your doctor regularly. Ask about having mammograms, when to start, and how often to have one.

Talk to the Doctor. If you are planning to take any estrogen-containing pill, carefully discuss the topic with your physician. Increased levels of estrogen may play a role in breast cancer, but the medication’s benefits may well outweigh the risk.

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If you would like more information on “Breast Cancer – Ways to Lower Your Risk” feel free to contact Gail Gilman, Family Life Consultant, M.Ed., C.F.C.S. and Professor Emeritus – University of Minnesota at waldn001@umn.edu. Be sure to watch for more Family Living Focus™ information in next week’s paper.

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