1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. 8 women die from breast cancer every day in Australia. With statistics as alarming as this, it’s important to understand risk factors and how you can reduce the risks of breast cancer.
What are the risk factors for breast cancer?
There are many risk factors that contribute to the likelihood of developing breast cancer. Some are risks we can increase or reduce depending on our lifestyle choices, but there are some risks, like being a woman and getting older, that we have no control over.
In a small percentage of cases, family history is also a risk factor – your risk of developing breast cancer increases if a close relative is diagnosed with breast cancer, the number of your relatives diagnosed with breast cancer, and if your relatives are diagnosed at a young age.
Researchers estimate that close to 30% of all breast cancers could be prevented if women live healthier lives – and there are some very important ways you can help reduce your chance of getting the disease.
Almost 8% of women have extremely high breast density which increases their cancer risk and can make it harder for health professionals to detect breast cancer on a screening mammogram. Breast cancer is more likely to develop in women with dense breast tissue.
Ways to reduce breast cancer risk
The rate of breast cancer is increasing each year as more women are diagnosed with the disease. Breast cancer has many possible causes and there are a variety of risk factors that can increase your chance of developing breast cancer, some of which you have control over. But there are many risk factors can be influenced by choices made during your lifetime. Making healthy choices can reduce your likelihood of breast cancer and many other diseases. Overall, try to:
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Maintain a healthy weight throughout your life
- Be active, exercise regularly
- Have children early and breastfeed if you can
- Maintain a healthy diet, including fresh vegetables and fruit
- Try not to stress
- Avoid long-term use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Don’t smoke
What can you do now?
Early detection increases the likelihood of surviving breast cancer and mammography remains the gold standard for breast cancer screening. Researchers encourage women to use the opportunity to have free regular mammograms through BreastScreen services.
You can also have your breast density assessed through a mammogram, which can be arranged through a GP.
Be breast aware. All women, regardless of age, can be familiar with their breasts and check them regularly. Any changes should be reported to a GP.
If you have concerns, consult a GP at Mingara Medical by making an appointment online or calling 4303 3333.