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We’ve come a long way…but one in eight women will still be diagnosed with breast cancer.   So what are some things my patients can do to prevent a diagnosis?  There’s a lot we can do to prevent a diagnosis, considering that only 10% of women with diagnosed cancer are genetically predisposed.  This means that 90% of all breast cancer cases are not genetically linked, and improving lifestyles, may reduce a breast cancer diagnosis!

1.  Early Detection.

Your fist mammogram happens at age 40.  Period.  We know that if breast cancer is detected early the five year survival rate is practically 100%.   But did you know that research shows that women who get annual mammograms starting at age 40 and develop breast cancer are less likely to need invasive treatment (chemotherapy, lymph nodes removal or a mastectomy).  Mammograms not only save lives but they give you the option of less invasive treatments.

2.  Eat Wisely

I know no one wants this lecture.  We are living in a wonderful time for women.  A time where the body positivity movement has given a voice to all women.  But the fact is that obesity is linked to breast cancer.  I tell my patients that a healthy diet is one of the best ways to combat a diagnosis.  Eat wisely.  Basically I’m trying to tell you, eat at least six servings of veggies and fruits  (hopefully cruciferous veggies).  Choose lean proteins, and add a smidgen of healthy complex carbs, such as legumes.

3.  Sip Mindfully

Women should limit themselves to one drink per day-regardless of the kind of alcohol they enjoy. Ann McTiernan, M.D., a researcher and epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle, has found a link between increased alcohol consumption and an increased risk of breast cancer development.

4. Hormone Therapy

Let your gynecologist guide you on the best way to manage your menopausal symptoms.  Your gynecologist will help you avoid progesterone (synthetic progesterone, or progestin is tied to higher breast cancer risk, as well) and limit the use of HRT to less than 3 years.   Also stay away from OTC hormonal gels and creams unless you doctor knows about them.  The Mayo Clinic has Ok’d plant estrogens (isoflavones), so 1-2 servings of soy milk and tofu are safe.

5.  Take a Walk OUTSIDE

Did you know that a well regulated Circadian Rhythm  stops fat cells from storing too much of fat?  The less fat you store, decreases the likelihood of obesity, which decreases your cancer risk. So exercise outdoors (and wear sunscreen). Take that 35 min/day outdoor walk and decrease the likelihood of developing breast cancer by 10% (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention, 2014).

Feel free to Contact Dr. Elizabeth Arena, at SGLA for a personalized screening regimen.