Beating the odds against breast cancer

Don’t be another breast cancer victim. Fight like a girl with all you’ve got.

“You have breast cancer.” One in eight women will hear this dreaded diagnosis in her lifetime.

But there’s good news in the midst of the bad. While you can’t change your family history, there are concrete ways to increase your chances of being in the seven out of eight who avoid breast cancer. Even high-risk women can beat their odds.

Multiple studies have connected alcohol consumption with breast cancer. The alcohol in wine, beer and liquor increases estrogen levels and other hormones responsible for hormone-receptor-positive types of breast cancer. Alcohol may also damage cell DNA, increasing your cancer risk.

Compared to women who don’t drink, women who consume a meager three alcoholic beverages a week experience a 15% increased risk of breast cancer. Up it to four drinks and your risk increases by 25%, five drinks by 35% and so on. It makes sense to avoid alcohol, but indulging one to two times a week should be safe.

The toxins found in cigarettes have been linked to multiple types of cancers and diseases, including breast cancer. Research shows the risk of breast cancer is highest for women who started the habit before having children and who smoke prior to menopause. If health and long life are at all important to you, you won’t smoke.

There’s also a clear connection between breast cancer and menopausal hormone therapy. Taking estrogen and progesterone for hot flashes, night sweats and other uncomfortable menopause symptoms was common practice for many women until research showed it increased their risk of breast cancer.

Hormones are still prescribed and are useful for unwanted symptoms. However, you’ll want to limit the amount and the duration you take them, as prolonged use of hormone therapies seems to result in much greater risk of breast cancer. Talk with your doctor about other possible options for relief from the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. The good news is a woman’s risk of hormone therapy-related breast cancer decreases to a normal risk when she’s been off the hormones for five years.

Not facing menopause yet? The hormones found in birth control pills slightly increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer as well. Fortunately, this risk ceases when a women has been off the pill for 10 years.

For post-menopausal women, more estrogen is produced in fatty tissue than in the ovaries. So, the more you weigh, the greater your risk of breast cancer.

This is a wake-up call for overweight women. By shedding excess weight through diet and exercise, you can lower your likelihood of suffering from breast cancer. Even a small amount of weight loss is beneficial.

Already at a healthy weight? Stay that way with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Early detection plays a large role in the success rate of treatment. Perform breast self-exams once a month in the shower or lying on your back. Carefully check for lumps and changes in the feel and appearance of your breasts. Talk with doctor about when to have your first mammogram and how frequently you should be screened.

Wish you could do more to fight breast cancer besides personal lifestyle changes? Become a volunteer for programs that help women facing breast cancer. This may involve picking up a cancer patient and driving her to her treatment appointments. You can also make a donation for breast cancer research, sign up to take part in a clinical trial or medical survey, and petition the government to support breast cancer awareness and research.

Take an active role in your fight against this terrible disease and increase your chances of winning.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

Just Posted

Jayda Monilaws raises over $7,000 of cupcakes for Central Alberta Humane Society

This is the most the 10-year-old Red Deerian has raised so far

PHOTOS: Alberta male team takes silver in Winter Games relay speed skating

Alberta was close behind Quebec in the team relay speed skating finals

WATCH: Pet therapy brings calmness to Winter Games athletes

Canada Winter Games in Red Deer continue on until March 2nd

Jayda Monilaws is selling cupcakes again for Central Alberta Humane Society

The 10-year-old Red Deerian is selling cupcakes today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Alberta was crowned champions in Wheelchair Basketball at Canada Winter Games

Ontario won silver while Quebec took home the bronze medal

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

Child advocacy centre raising funds through Dream Home Lottery

The child advocacy centre in Red Deer uses its resources to help kids all over Central Alberta

Trudeau tells Canadians to listen to clerk in SNC-Lavalin matter

Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick delivered a blunt assessment at the House of Commons justice

Mueller report looming, new attorney general in hot seat

Robert Mueller is required to produce a confidential report to pursue or decline prosecutions

B.C. woman shares story of abuse with church officials ahead of Vatican summit

Leona Huggins was the only Canadian in the gathering ahead of a historic summit at the Vatican

Sylvan Lake’s Megan Cressey misses Freestyle Skiing Big Air podium

Alberta’s Jake Sandstorm captured silver in the men Freestyle Skiing Big Air contest

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read