Dear Annie: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please use your column to encourage people to be vigilant against breast cancer even if it doesn’t run in their families. Although people who have had a relative with breast cancer are at greater risk for getting it themselves, only around 5 to 10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary, according to the American Cancer Society. There are many other risk factors besides genes. The following are a few suggestions from Stanford Medicine and the American Cancer Society to increase your protection from breast cancer.
• Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight is a strong risk factor for breast cancer and “even a 10 percent weight gain can strongly increase the chances of breast cancer as well as a recurrence.”
• Eat a mostly plant-based diet rich in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Contrary to what you may have heard, consuming soy does not appear to increase breast cancer risk. Stanford Medicine says that it is an “excellent source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, calcium and isoflavones and can possibly help bind estrogen and may decrease the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate.”
• Avoid alcohol. According to the American Cancer Society, research has shown that, compared with women who don’t drink at all, women who have two to three alcoholic drinks a day have about a 20% higher risk.
• Exercise regularly.
These are just a few tips, and women should, of course, talk to their health care professionals about any concerns or questions they may have. – Spread the Word
Dear Spread the Word: Thank you for sharing these. I encourage all women – and men – to talk to their doctors about the most prudent course for breast cancer screening.
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