Tip #1: You may want to put down your cocktail.

Brierley Horton
September 22, 2017

In the United States, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer — making it the most common form of cancer for women in the US. While this is definitely an alarming statistic, researchers are discovering ways to help lower your risk. 

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) says we can actually prevent 33 percent of all breast cancer cases by making healthy changes to what we eat and how much we move.

Earlier this year, AICR published a new, major report in which they analyzed 119 studies, 12 million women, and 260,000 cases of breast cancer. They found that about 1 in 3 breast cancer diagnoses could be prevented if women were physically active, maintained a healthy weight (or got to one and stayed there), and didn’t drink alcohol. Here’s why you should consider doing the same.

Cut out the Booze

We know what you’re thinking: Wait, what? I shouldn’t drink any alcohol?

While a drink a day is often considered healthy for women when looking at other health conditions, when it comes to breast cancer, drinking even a small glass of wine or beer daily raises pre-menopausal breast cancer risk by 5 percent and post-menopausal risk by 9 percent, according to the new report. (A “small” glass in their report was defined as 10 grams of alcohol, whereas as a standard drink is 14 grams.)

The recommendation to watch your weight stems from the consistent findings that being overweight or obese or gaining weight in adulthood significantly raises your risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer.

Don’t Skip Your Workout

Photo: Randy Mayor

When it comes to being active, both moderate and vigorous exercise significantly lowers your risk. Women who run, cycle, or engage in another form of vigorous exercise lowered their risk of breast cancer by up to 17 percent. Walking, gardening or doing another moderately-intense exercise cuts your risk by about 13 percent.

Eat Your Veggies

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

The report also showed that some emerging research shows some promise to other diet changes, though more research is still needed. Eating non-starchy vegetables; foods containing carotenoids (carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, etc.); dairy products; and a calcium-rich diet (via dairy or other calcium-rich foods like tofu, broccoli and dark leafy greens) may also lower your risk.

There are, of course, other factors that contribute to breast cancer and raise your risk for developing it — namely your age and family history. However, it’s empowering to know that making a few, small lifestyle changes can potentially lower your risk. So, what are you waiting for? Lace up your shoes, go for a run, and eat some veggies for dinner.

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