"The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.

Dr. Seuss,  I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

What You Don’t Know May Indeed Kill You: Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer

Although the incidence of cancer and mortality rates are on the decline in Western countries, due to a reduction in risk factors such as smoking, implementation of screening programs and better treatment regimens, the opposite trend is true in low and middle-income countries. Our review of scientific literature shows that the incidence and mortality from cancer are increasing and projected to increase in these countries at even faster rates.

Nigerian women have the highest incidence of breast cancer on the African continent and it is currently estimated that 1 in 25 Nigerian women will have cancer in her lifetime. This number will continue to worsen due to the popularity and continued adaptation of Western lifestyles ie, smoking, sedentary lifestyles, and obesity.

The two most significant reasons to develop breast cancer are being of female gender and increasing age. While there is no guaranteed way to fully protect yourself from developing this disease, you can reduce your risk factors by taking a proactive approach towards your breast health.

By committing to a few key changes, a woman of any lifestyle, culture or background can reduce her chances of facing a battle against this deadly disease.

Studies have shown that women who are overweight or obese have an increased breast cancer risk, particularly women who are postmenopausal. Estrogen, which is believed to stimulate breast cancer cells, is stored in the fat tissue and so an excess in fat can lead to a dangerous excess in estrogen. Weight gain also poorly affects survival if a woman is diagnosed with cancer.

Exercise is proven to reduce the risk of many diseases including cancer. Increasing the amount of time you spend moving your body and exercising regularly can reduce your risk of developing cancer. This can be as simple as going for a brisk walk around your neighborhood for 25 to 40 minutes a day at least three times a week. Of course, you will also shed those unwanted pounds; look and feel great.

Consuming a healthy balanced nutritious diet comprised primarily of vegetables, fruit, fish and low-fat dairy will help to keep you at a healthy weight with less body fat that can be converted to estrogen.

Part of knowing how to prevent breast cancer includes knowing when to say “no” to an extra glass of wine. According to the American Cancer Society, women who drink 2 or more alcoholic drinks each day have 1.5x the risk of developing breast cancer in comparison to those who completely abstain from it. But this doesn’t mean that women need to completely forgo their favorite adult beverages. One drink per day for women and two for men shouldn’t significantly increase your chances of breast cancer. Quitting smoking will help decrease your risk of many diseases. You’ll feel and smell good and the people around you will thank you for it.

Checking in with your doctor once a year for a physical examination not only is a good way to ensure that you have a clean bill of health, but it also provides you the opportunity to ask any important questions that can protect your health and introduce you to new and updated ideas for how to prevent breast cancer.