Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to increase public knowledge of the disease and emphasize the importance of early detection.  Breast cancer is a complex disease with widely varied risk factors – from aging and family history to lifestyle factors and even environmental exposure. Though a number of things could increase one’s risk for developing breast cancer, most physicians agree that being diligent about preventive screenings and taking steps to improve overall health can improve a patient’s prognosis or help reduce the likelihood of developing cancer in the first place.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Harbin Clinic Cancer Center offers the following suggestions for living a healthy life to help reduce the risk of breast and other forms of cancer.

Commit to routine screenings and self-examinations.

No one looks forward to them, but mammogram screenings are often a woman’s best defense against breast cancer. Follow your provider’s breast screening recommendations, which will be based on your personal risk factors. For women age 20 and older, self-breast exams are highly recommended. Diagnosing the disease in its earliest and most curable stage is critical to have the best chance of survival.

Kick bad habits.

Breast cancer risk aside, your overall health and wellness depends on making wise choices when it comes to what you put in your body. In particular, eliminate smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as these practices put toxins in your body that could cause cancerous cells to form or lead to the development of other health problems.

Break a sweat.

Some studies have shown that regular physical activity can help lower one’s risk of breast cancer by as much as 10 to 20 percent. Exercising doesn’t mean you have to get into marathon-running shape or live at the gym. Simply walking, hiking or biking five days a week for just 30 minutes a day can help boost the body’s immune system and fight the growth of cancer cells. Plus, exercising helps you maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity, which is critical since being overweight can dramatically increase breast cancer risk.

Eat clean.

You’ve heard it your whole life. Properly nourishing your body with a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for promoting overall health. While no specific food or nutrition plan has been shown to actually prevent cancer, eating nutritious foods can help strengthen the immune system and give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay strong and pack a punch against illness and disease in general.

Know your body.

Being self-aware and knowing what is normal for your body is incredibly important. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump, nipple discharge, or skin changes, see a doctor immediately.  Be an advocate for your own health! It could save your life.

For information about Harbin Clinic Cancer Center, call 762-235-3930 or visit online. To schedule a mammogram*, call to set up an appointment with a physician at Harbin Clinic Women’s Center in Rome or Cartersville at 762-235-2710 or 470-490-7200.

*Harbin Clinic mammography services are only offered at our Cartersville location.