"Why I Gave Up My Breasts"
Protect Your BreastsThree Who-Knew Facts About Your Breasts
- Girls now sprout breasts nearly a year earlier -- typically by age 10 -- than they did 15 years ago.
- Breasts are bigger than ever: The average American woman is a 36C compared with a 34B just a generation ago.
- Breastfeeding a baby every day uses about 30 percent of a mother's total daily energy, or the equivalent of walking seven miles.
Give your girls a fighting chance against cancer.
Stay at a healthy weight
A BMI of more than 25 increases your chance of getting breast cancer because fat cells make estrogen, which can cause cancer to develop and grow, says Marisa Weiss, MD, the president of Breastcancer.org and a coauthor of Living Well Beyond Breast Cancer.
Limit your consumption of meat and other animal protein, eat low- or nonfat dairy, and choose whole foods rather than processed ones. Be sure to load up on mineral- and vitamin-rich cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, arugula, kale, and cabbage.
Women who got at least 10 hours a week, no matter the intensity level, lowered their postmenopausal breast cancer risk by about 30 percent, a new study found. "I tell my patients, 'Exercise is no longer optional. It's mandatory,'" Dr. Weiss says. Find activities you enjoy and do them with friends so you're more likely to stick with it.
Limit yourself to three or fewer alcoholic drinks a week. "One drink means 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of hard liquor, not a bucket-size margarita," Dr. Weiss says. Having even one cocktail a day increases your breast cancer risk by 4 percent, research has found.It's Not All in the Family
Only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers cases are hereditary. While having a mother, sister, or daughter with the disease doubles your chance, all women are at risk for breast cancer. These are some of the factors that up your odds.
- Being postmenopausal
- Getting your first period before age 12
- Not having kids
- Giving birth for the first time after age 30
- Not breastfeeding
- Having dense breast tissue, as shown by a mammogram
- Radiation treatments to your chest as a child or young adult
- Weight gain as an adult
- Drinking alcohol (even one drink a day increases your risk slightly)
- Not exercising
- Race (white women are more likely to get breast cancer; African-American women are more likely to die from it)
- Using birth control pills within the last 10 years
Source: American Cancer Society (cancer.org)Should You Get a Genetic Test?
If you have a family history of breast cancer -- especially any relatives with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation -- or ovarian cancer, or if you've previously been diagnosed with early-onset breast cancer or triple-negative breast cancer, you should meet with a genetic counselor to discuss testing, says Banu Arun, MD, a codirector of the clinical cancer genetics program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Use the National Society of Genetic Counselors' search tool at nsgc.org to find a specialist near you.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, October 2012.
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