Given that 1-in-9 women in North America get breast cancer, I am always shocked how little most know about the risk factors. In Canada, 24,4000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and about 5,000 die from the disease.
While breast cancer does not have as clear cut a cause as, say, lung cancer, most breast cancers ARE PREVENTABLE!
The Centre for Science in the Public Interest did a great article in their Nutrition Action Newsletter about this recently. Now, none of their findings are news to me, the data has been out there for a while, but perhaps it will clear up any confusion you might have, thanks to the myths and misunderstandings floating around out there.
Here are controllable risk factors:
1. Post-menopausal weight gain (even 5-10 lbs!)
2. Alcohol consumption (just 3-4 drinks per week increases risk by 17%!)
3. Inactivity (exercise can lower risk by up to 25%!)
4. Minimize radiation from CT scans if possible (if prescribed by your doctor, make sure its absolutely necessary)
5. Having no children before age 30 (but don't have children before you're ready...)
6. Never breast feeding (breast feed as long as you can!)
7. High consumption of red meat (plant-based foods = good)
8. Low Vitamin D levels (most folks should be supplementing)
Here are factors that are not proven to increase risk:
1. Environmental toxins like BPA (but good to avoid them anyways)
2. Soy consumption
5. Breast implants
6. Underwire bras
7. Hair dye
So don't think that you may be destined to get breast cancer and that there is nothing you can do. There is! The same things I always recommend: exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, eat a mostly plant-based diet, and minimize alcohol consumption.
What scares the begeezus out of me is that I had a CT scan years ago because of my chronic sinus headaches. But there is nothing I can do about that now except do everything in my power to keep my risk low through other modifiable factors.