Be Aware

Caring for your Breasts 

Women are encouraged to take care of their breasts because breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in women. Whilst the causes are not yet fully understood, research shows that you can lower your risk of developing the disease or dying from it by minimizing lifestyle and environmental risk factors and through breast screening.

Risks

Whilst some women will never develop breast cancer, others aren't so fortunate. Naturally, some women are more at risks that others, and it’s therefore appropriate to find out what risk you do have. However, every woman should be breast aware irrespective of risk level.

Known Risk Factors for Breast Cancer:

  • Gender: More than 99% of breast cancer cases occur among women.
  • Age: The older you are, the higher your risk.
  • Early menstruation: Before age 12.
  • Late menopause: After age 55.
  • Child-bearing age: Having your first baby after the age of 30.
  • Never having children.
  • Having a close family member with breast cancer
  • Being physically inactive
  • Being overweight
  • Possible Risk Factors


Not Eating enough Fruit or Vegetables

  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Never breastfeeding
  • Smoking and smoke exposure
  • Using birth control pills
  • Taking HRT for prolonged periods.

Minimising your Risk

Some risk factors, such as age, reproductive and family histories are beyond your control. However, others are within your control and choosing to make changes to your lifestyle can reduce your risk of developing the disease.

Here are some simple changes you can make:

  • Be physically active. Studies have shown that even moderate activity can reduce your risk by 30 to 40 percent. Choose to do something enjoyable that makes you breathe harder (such as brisk walking or swimming), for a least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • Lose excess weight. Gaining 5kg in body weight can be a significant risk factor, particularly if you are post-menopausal.
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables and a diet low in saturated fat; such a diet can help to lower your risk of developing several types of cancer.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol
  • Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding seems to offer some women protection from breast cancer, as well as being beneficial for the infant. Breastfeed for at least 6 months.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Weigh up the risks and benefits of taking birth control pills. Talk to your doctor about this, as taking pills can also offer some benefits.
  • Talk to your doctor about using HRT that’s prescribed to relieve symptoms of the menopause. The use of HRT for a long period can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.

For more information, visit the Macmillan Website.

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