Statistics show that there are currently more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, and it’s estimated that more than 268,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2019.
Those statistics are a bit scary. But the good news is, there are things we can do to help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
While you can’t change your genetic makeup or family history, this article offers tips that will help you prevent breast cancer. And the best part is that these lesser-known tips are easy to incorporate into your daily life.
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Quick Note: Know Your Menstrual History
Research shows that women and girls who start their cycle at a young age have a higher risk of breast cancer later in life. This is possibly caused by longer exposure to estrogen and progesterone hormones, the length between first menstruation and first pregnancy, and the link between your breasts and these hormones.
While there’s nothing you can do about when you begin to menstruate, the tips below will help decrease your risk of developing breast cancer.
Here Are 9 Lesser-Known Breast Cancer Prevention Tips:
Incorporate these breast cancer prevention tips, make sure to use self-examination techniques often, and see your doctor regularly.
1. Be Mindful of Your Beauty Products
Does it surprise you to learn that certain beauty products can actually make you sick? The chemicals in many hair sprays, makeup and skincare products, and shaving creams are actually harmful to us.
Specifically parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, toluene, and benzene are chemicals derived from petroleum, and have been linked to cancer.
These chemicals are hormone disruptors and affect how estrogen and other hormones work in your body. This throws off your body’s hormonal balance, which creates an environment where hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer cells can develop.
Look for natural beauty products made with oils such as avocado oil, argan oil, or coconut oil to avoid these chemicals.
Looking for healthy skincare and beauty alternatives that won’t break the bank? Read this!
2. Get Some Sleep
Research has shown that people who get more sleep have a reduced risk of breast cancer, most likely related to melatonin production. What’s melatonin? It’s a hormone that regulates your body’s sleep cycle. Melatonin peaks at night and stays low during the day.
If you work at night, or don’t get enough sleep, it can result in constant low levels of melatonin. Get more sleep as often as you can to help balance your melatonin levels and keep yourself healthy.
Having trouble sleeping? Yoga can help with that! Check out this Simple Bedtime Yoga Sequence for Restful Sleep
3. Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
While this may sound cliche, it’s also true that when you lead a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce the risk of most illnesses. A “healthy” lifestyle primarily means you exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, and stop smoking.
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Eating a clean, organic diet with plenty of fresh produce, taking vitamins and supplements, and quitting negative habits all contribute to a reduced risk of breast cancer and an improved quality of life overall.
4. Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
Studies show that women who consume an average of 3 drinks per week increase their risk for breast cancer by 15% compared to women who don’t consume alcohol at all.
Alcohol consumption may damage your DNA and increase estrogen levels, as well as other hormone levels, that are associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
5. Soak up the Sun. . .
Research shows that higher levels of Vitamin D helps reduce the risk of breast cancer because it controls normal breast cell growth and prevents the growth of breast cancer cells. It’s recommended that your daily Vitamin D intake is between 600-800 IUs.
Some things you can do to increase your Vitamin D intake include:
- Spend more time in the sun
- Take Vitamin D supplements
- UV lamps and bulbs
- Eat food rich in Vitamin D like fatty fish, mushrooms, or fortified foods
6. . . . But Be Careful With Your Sunscreen
This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but sunscreen is similar to beauty products. The chemicals found in sunscreen certainly help block harmful UV rays and protect us from various other types of cancer, but these chemicals are also hormone disruptors.
Again, hormone disruptors change the hormone levels in your body by blocking or mimicking them, throwing off your body’s hormone balance. Hormonal imbalance, in turn, is associated with various types of cancer, including breast cancer.
Always wear sunscreen when you’re headed outside, but be mindful of the kind of sunscreen you’re using. There are plenty of brands that have options with limited chemicals. Another way to help protect yourself is to cover up with clothes or avoid the sun during the its peak hours.
7. Eat Turmeric
Turmeric is a spice that originated in Asian countries, and widely used in Ayurvedic medicine.
You can add turmeric to your food or use it as an herbal remedy. The primary natural chemical in turmeric is curcumin, which studies show can kill cancer cells and prevent new cancer cells from growing.
Want to learn more about this amazing spice and its surprisingly wide range of uses and health benefits? Check out the Top 12 Uses For Turmeric
8. Toss Your Tampons and Pads
Pesticides are sprayed onto the cotton grown to be used in pads and tampons. When you wear a tampon or pad, these pesticides and chemicals are absorbed into the skin, which results in hormonal changes associated with various types of cancer.
In addition, most brands of commercial feminine products contain plastic, which exposes you to a whole slew of other chemicals.
The FDA recommends that all tampons and pads be free of pesticides and herbicides, but there currently isn’t a way to actively enforce this. Safer alternatives to tampons and pads include organic cotton products, menstrual cups, or absorbent underwear.
Looking for other alternatives for your cycle? Check out our Review of FLEX – The Eco-Friendly Tampon Alternative
9. Gobble Up Carotenoids
Carot-what? Carotenoids are found in foods like carrots, spinach, kale, broccoli, pumpkin, and sweet potato. Studies show that eating these carotenoid-rich food reduces your risk of breast cancer by almost 20%.
Breast Cancer Prevention: The Takeaway
There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Some prevention methods are surprising, like the ones above, but other things like getting regular breast exams and self-exams are the most common and most effective ways to prevent breast cancer.
Get to know your body. It’s important to recognize any abnormalities as a part of breast cancer prevention. It’s so important that you know what’s normal for you, so you can tell your doctor when something is wrong.
The founders of Keep A Breast Foundation developed an app called Check Yourself to help you set monthly reminders for a self-breast exam. The app even shows you how to accurately perform an exam!
This article and all included information is not intended as medical advice and does not treat or diagnose. Please consult your doctor for any health-related questions or concerns.