As of yet, there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in this country. Even so, there are clear steps women can take to reduce their risk. In October, which is nationally recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is the ideal time to take them.
One key precaution is for women to maintain a healthy weight, especially in midlife and later. After menopause, most of the hormone known as estrogen in a woman’s body comes from fat cells. Estrogen can cause the growth of many breast tumors, and being overweight or obese can raise breast cancer risk. Women may be especially vulnerable to breast cancer if extra pounds settle on their waist, rather than their hips and thighs.
These additional steps may help women reduce their risk for breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS):
Since breast cancer can develop even with these precautions, The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has found that the two major risks of getting breast cancer include being over 40 and being female.
Regular mammograms (breast x-rays) can detect cancer in its early stages and give women a head start on potentially lifesaving treatment and are recommended as early as 40 years old depending on individual circumstances, according to the AICR.
Talk to your doctor about when you should begin a mammogram screening along with discussing your family history, your lifestyle, and your concerns.
If you, a friend, or a family member have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, there are a number of local support groups for those with a diagnosis, caregivers, and survivors.
Check out this resource list of Breast Cancer Support on the Western Slope: