Alaska Regional Hospital - September 05, 2018

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States, and one out of eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

These statistics are pretty alarming, but luckily a few lifestyle changes can help keep your breasts in tip-top shape and lower your risk of breast cancer.

Stick to one drink at happy hour

While moderate drinking (for women, one drink per day) may provide health benefits like a reduced risk of heart disease, more than that could affect your breast health. Booze may not only damage DNA in cells, increasing your risk, but regularly overdoing it bumps up your risk of hormone-receptorpositive breast cancer. If you drink alcohol, it is recommended that you consume less than one drink per day. Increased alcohol consumption raises your risk of breast cancer. At your next happy hour, instead of a second glass of wine, reach for soda water with lime. Remember, one drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Squeeze in a 30-minute workout

Women who are overweight or obese–indicated by a body mass index (BMI) above 25– have a higher risk of breast cancer than those who maintain a healthy weight, especially after menopause. Being overweight can also increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer recurrence. Why the increased risk? Fat cells produce estrogen, which can trigger the growth of hormone–receptor–positive breast cancers. The recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, with at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week in addition to regular resistance training. It goes without saying that maintaining a healthy weight begins with a healthy diet.

Ditch the cigarettes

Heavy smoking ups your risk for lung and mouth cancers, but studies suggest that it may up your risk for breast cancer too, especially if you started the habit before having your first child. Experts are also looking into secondhand smoke and breast cancer risk.

Choose fish instead of steak

Women who eat more red meat (1.5 servings a day) have a 22 percent higher risk of breast cancer than those who only eat one serving a week, according to a study that followed 89,000 women over 20 years. The study, which was published in The BMJ (a leading medical research journal), also found that replacing one serving of red meat per day with poultry reduces breast cancer risk by 17 percent. Instead of red meat, opt for fish, lean protein and nuts. Luckily, you live in Alaska, which provides plenty of opportunities for fishing!

Do self–breast exams

It is recommended that women do a self-breast exam once a month to learn what their breasts feel and look like. If you detect a firm mass or something that is stuck in place, a mass that is getting bigger or if the skin over it changes, have it evaluated. Risk increases with age, starting in your forties. Various organizations offer differing guidelines on the frequency of mammograms and when they should start; consult with your healthcare provider for what’s right for you.

Get a mammogram. It may save your life

About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. And yet, a diagnosis of earlystage breast cancer can be beaten. That's because of two life-saving words: early detection.

Finding breast cancer early and getting state–of–the–art cancer treatment are the most important strategies to prevent deaths from breast cancer. Breast cancer that’s found early, when it’s small and has not spread, is easier to treat successfully. Getting regular screening tests is the most reliable way to find breast cancer early.

Schedule your mammogram today. Our new Alaska Regional Imaging Alliance provides leading–edge medical knowledge, innovative technology, and quality healthcare that meets the needs of every patient at every stage of life. With street–side access, our beautiful new home in the E building offers comprehensive imaging services in a spa–like environment tailored to your needs. Call 855–226–9105.