If you’re already thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions, you’ll be pleased to hear that a lot of the traditional pledges we make at this time of year correspond nicely with increasing your chances of avoiding breast cancer.
While there are certain risk factors – such as family history – that you can’t do anything about, there are a lot of lifestyle modifications that you can make that will not only make you feel healthier (and in certain cases, wealthier), but will also reduce the risk of breast cancer.
New Year’s Resolution: cut down your alcohol intake
The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. Simple as that. According to medical studies on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk, the general recommendation is that you should aim to cut down your intake to less than one drink a day, as even small amounts of alcohol will increase the risk.
New Year’s Resolution: if you’re smoking, quit now
We all know the link between smoking and cancer, but while the focus is always on lung cancer, there has been evidence of a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women.
New Year’s Resolution: keep an eye on your weight
It’s a medical fact that being overweight or obese will increase your risk of breast cancer, particularly as you age and especially after menopause. Recent studies claim that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts, may be a factor in reducing the risk of breast cancer. Essentially, switching to healthy fats such as olive oil over butter and eating fish instead of red meat can bring on a serious health boost.
New Year’s Resolution: get more physically active
The goal for most healthy adults should be at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week. In other words, time to sort out a gym membership.
In a large-scale UK study published earlier this year, scientists at Cardiff University analysed data from UK Biobank, an ongoing health study of 500,000 adults. Using information provided on lifestyle behaviours, such as low alcohol consumption, not smoking, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight and eating a good diet, they found that those who adopted all five healthy behavioural patterns had a 35 percent reduction in breast cancer risk.
So, with over 80 percent of New Year’s Resolutions failing by February, this could be the extra incentive to make long-term lifestyle changes.