Breast cancer: preventative steps you can take

Although detection and treatment of breast cancer is improving, it has become the most common form of cancer in the UK amongst women.

Did you know there are preventative steps you can take against it? We have some simple tips that can help you reduce the risk of developing tumours:

- Try to cut down on tinned food and drinks – even water – from plastic bottles, unless they are marked BPA free. Most of these contain Bisphenol A (BPA), which disrupts the hormone system and has been linked to breast cancer.

- Beware of plastic food containers, especially if they are old, and never put them in the microwave. They also contain BPA, unless labelled otherwise.

- Look for paraben-free cosmetics, drinks and foods like jams, pie fillings, beers and pickles. Parabens disrupt the hormones. They are listed on cosmetics but not on food products, so try to avoid pre-prepared products.


- Stay active... We all know that exercise is good for us for many reasons. It’s important to avoid a sedentary life, and working out for 35 to 60 minutes a day lowers your risk of breast cancer, not to mention helps you feel fantastic and stay in shape. And it’s better outdoors. Even when it's not completely sunny, helps you fulfill your vitamin D quota for the day.

- Say goodbye to fat. Eat low-fat foods and avoid animal fats such as red meat, eggs, butter and cold meats.

- Feel free to eat a bit of everything, but always in moderation. However, fatty foods should not make up more than 25-30 per cent of the calories in your diet.

- Fibre Foods. Consuming foods that are rich in fibre and vitamin A, C and E help protect your body.

- Good nutrition is our ally. Foods such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower or turnips contain sulforaphane, a component that strengthens the cells that help fight tumours. If these foods are part of our diet, we will reap the benefits of their protective efforts against cancer.

- Avoid drinking alcohol. Enjoying the occasional tipple shouldn't cause any serious health problems, but the latest studies show that having an average of three to six drinks a week can increase the likelihood of getting a tumour by up to 15 per cent. This risk percentage rises to 51 per cent if you have two drinks everyday.

- Breast-feeding. Studies reveal that breast-feeding your baby helps protect against breast cancer. 'For how long?', you might ask. Doctors advise breast-feeding babies for at least 6 months, if not a year.

- Be careful with birth control. There is an established relationship between the use of hormonal contraceptives and a modest increase in the risk of breast cancer. Be aware that if you are under 40 and use birth control for longer than five years, you may be at risk.

- What about hormonal treatments? Be careful about Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) during menopause. There is often a long period of silence between the initial stage of breast cancer and the appearance of symptoms. Preventive screenings aim to detect cancer at this stage, as this is when it is easier to treat successfully.

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