Breast cancer affects one in eight women in the UK. While your age and your family history could increase your risk of developing breast cancer, scientists have recently found that your lifestyle could have a huge affect on your chances staving it off. A few healthy changes could make a real difference.
“One of best things you can do to protect yourself, not just from breast cancer but from all types of cancer, is to get regular exercise,” says Dr Matthew Lam, from Breakthrough Breast Cancer. If every woman in the UK was physically active for 30 minutes a day, one in six cases of breast cancer could be avoided.
If you struggle to find the motivation to exercise just remember that if you stick to your daily half an hour you’ll reduce your risk of breast cancer by at least 20 per cent. And it doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise either just a 30-minute stroll could be beneficial.
You can keep track of your exercise and the impact it might have on your breast cancer risk on Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s website Brisk, where there are some great ideas for how to spend your 30 minutes of activity a day too.
Alongside exercise, a healthy diet could also help you to drop a dress size, which is another great way to reduce your breast cancer risk. Experts have found that going up a skirt size every decade after your mid-20s ups your breast cancer risk by 1/3 post menopause. So slimming down your waistline is important.
Eating a varied and balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit, veg, pulses and wholegrains and limits sugary or fatty processed foods, is a great way to lose weight and stay healthy. Don’t forget you can get help losing weight by joining Yours Diet Club.
Keep on quitting
Smoking can be hard to give up but it’s also the biggest preventable cause of cancer, so stubbing out could significantly reduce your risk. Get free help and advice on quitting at www.nhs.co.uk/smokefree.
What about HRT?
The HRT debate still goes on and there is evidence that taking HRT for more than three years if you’re over fifty could cause a small increase in your risk of breast cancer. But that risk reduces as soon as you stop taking HRT and it’s important to weigh up this risk with how much you’re struggling to cope with your menopause symptoms. Speak to your GP who will help you to work out what it best for you.
For more information on how to help reduce your risk of breast cancer Breakthrough Breast Cancer has a great guide to download here.
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