Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, after skin cancer. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. The good news? There are ways to protect yourself and reduce your risk.
The following guidelines are from the American Cancer Society, but you should always connect with your doctor on what your specific screening schedule and plan of action should be based off your family history, personal medical history, and risk factors.
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health.
- All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening.
What can you do to reduce your risk? Follow these preventative measures set by the Mayo Clinic.
- Schedule a physical exam with your doctor. You should have a physical every year which should include a clinical breast exam and pelvic exam. If any unusual symptoms or changes in your breasts occur before your scheduled visit, do not hesitate to see the doctor immediately.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Don’t Smoke. There’s a link between smoking and breast cancer so seek help to quit.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise boosts the immune system and helps you keep your weight in check. Exercise at least three hours per week or about 30 minutes per day.
- Abstain from drinking alcohol or limit intake to one drink per day. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer.
- Talk with your doctor. If you notice any changes in your breasts, consult your doctor and find a plan of prevention based on your personal history.
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This information is not intended as medical advice. Consult with your physician on your unique health risks, family history, and medical situation. Before beginning any new wellness program, consider discussing your exercise and diet plans with your doctor, particularly if you have unique health issues.