The Breast Cancer Fund gave us these breast cancer prevention tips--as they say, prevention is power. There are lots of simple things you can do every day that could add up in a big way when it comes to reducing your breast cancer risk.
Take a look:
Avoid overnight work shifts for long stretches. Keeping a regular daily schedule and limiting the number of years that you pull overnight shift works may reduce your breast cancer risk by 33 percent. Overnight shift work over the long-term--and continued exposure to light at night--is associated with 1.5 to 2.5-fold increased breast cancer risk.
Make sure you actually need that X-ray or CT scan. Both can give important information for medical diagnoses--but, according to the Breast Cancer Fund, there's no such thing as a safe dose of radiation, which is the most well-documented environmental cause of breast cancer--so be careful to limit medical radiation, and ask your doctor if there are any alternative tests that don't use radiation (such as ultrasounds). This may be especially important for women with BRCA mutations--"breast cancer genes"--who are under the age of 30 (they have almost four times the risk of breast cancer).
Avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals, such as parabens and synthetic fragrances. While the Breast Cancer Fund says that the science is too new to estimate risk based on chemicals that disrupt hormones--and breast development is guided by those hormones--limiting your exposure "may help explain some of the 50 percent of breast cancer cases where there is no other known risk factor." Here are a few ways of cutting off potential hormone-disrupting chemicals:
- Choose shampoos, conditioners, etc., that are free of parabens and synthetic fragrance (which can contain phthalates and synthetic musks).
- Avoid canned foods, which are lined with the hormone disruptor BPA.
- Use environmentally-friendly cleaning products that are free from alkylphenols and synthetic fragrance, and select products from companies that fully disclose all ingredients (cleaning product companies aren't legally required to do so).
- Choose organic foods, since many pesticides are hormone disruptors and can end up in food and ground water.
- Buy furniture made from old-school materials like cotton and wool instead of highly flammable polyurethane foam, which tend to be full of hormone-disrupting flame retardants.
Limit hormone-replacement therapy after menopause. While menopause may still be pretty far off, it's still important to remember that keeping hormone-replacement therapy to a minimum lowers your breast cancer risk by 26 percent, particularly when avoiding combined estrogen-progesterone therapies.