Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer
It’s one of the last things any woman wants to hear: “You have breast cancer.”Yet, according to breastcancer.org, besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2015, it’s estimated that just under 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers. Furthermore, about 40,290 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2015 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. Women under 50 have experienced larger decreases. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening and increased awareness. Whether it’s a part of your family history, genetics, or other risks factors, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
Some factors, such as age, sex, and your genetics can’t be changed. Breastcancer.org reports that most inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with two abnormal genes: BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene one) and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene two), which may account for up to 10% of breast cancers. Women who have an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene (or both) can have up to an 80% risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes. Donna Jacomet of San Jacinto, California knows this all too well.
After the loss of their mother due to ovarian cancer, Jacomet and three of her four sisters tested positive for the BRCA1 mutation. Jacomet’s older sister died in 2012 after her battle with cancer that spread from her breasts to her ovaries, liver and finally, to her brain. Two of her sisters had their ovaries removed in fear of cancer. As risk reducing options, Jacomet made the decision to get protective surgery to not only remove her healthy ovaries in 2007, but to remove her breasts in 2010 as well (called prophylactic bi-lateral oophorectomy and bi-lateral double mastectomy, respectively). According to breastcancer.org, the surgery may be able to reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 97%. Jacomet, a “Previvor,” has stated that she couldn’t imagine not taking every possible step she could to keep from being in her sister’s shoes. Jacomet, team captain for Eastern Municipal Water District’s (EMWD’s) Splash of Hope in Perris, California, actively participates in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events in honor of her mom and sisters.
If you know you have family history or an abnormal gene linked to breast cancer, or you simply want to lower your risk, there are several other factors that, when conquered by making healthier lifestyle choices, can lower your risk. According to Think Pink, Live Green: A Step-By-Step Guide to Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer, some factors include: • Reaching a healthy weight and maintaining it by exercising regularly • Eating nutritiously • Limiting alcohol use • Never smoking • Getting sufficient Vitamin D • Managing emotional and physical stress • Sleeping well • Avoiding unnecessary radiation (especially teenage girls during breast development) • Reducing your exposure to toxins by choosing safer personal care and household cleaning products.