Thinking About A Mammogram

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer worldwide and a significant concern for women. About 1 in 8 American women are at risk of breast cancer. Most women start to think about breast cancer prevention from age 40. However, doctors recommend changes to lower the risk from as early as age 30.

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What are the risks?

Breast cancer refers to an overgrowth of cells in the breast. These cells are malignant and can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. Besides female sex, other risks include age, family history, genetics, and a personal history of breast cancer. However, most women who develop breast cancer have no previous history of the disease. The risks come from unhealthy lifestyle factors that can damage genes and cells. These 3 habits may reduce the risk of breast cancer.

1. Avoid excess alcohol

Women who consume excess alcohol are more likely to develop breast cancer. Studies show that excess alcohol can impact hormone levels and trigger genes that can cause cancer. Even moderate alcohol consumption can increase the risk of breast cancer by up to 50%. Reducing alcohol or removing drinking altogether minimizes cancer risk.

2. Discuss birth control options

Birth control medication is a popular form of contraception. However, with age, there may be an increased risk of breast cancer. Some studies show that the hormone changes caused by birth control may be at fault. However, the risks vary as hormone levels in birth control have decreased over the years. If birth control is a concern, speak with an OB/GYN for safer options.

3. Make health a priority

From age 30, women should keep health and wellness top of mind. Excess weight and obesity are risk factors for breast cancer. Start by maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise. If needed, seek advice from a doctor and dietician to help lose and manage weight. Smoking also increases the risk. Studies show that women who smoke are more likely to develop cancers. Adopting new lifestyle habits early helps in the later years.

Take action before a mammogram

These tips can significantly decrease the risk factors of breast cancer, especially with age. However, these changes do not eliminate the risk. At age 40, doctors recommend that women start yearly breast cancer screening via a mammogram. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that detect cysts, tumors, and other abnormal changes. The mammogram cannot confirm cancer, but the x-ray helps doctors perform a biopsy to detect the disease. Proper health habits in the 30s will lead to healthy outcomes from age 40 and beyond.

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