When it comes to breast cancer, there is a common misconception among young women: breast cancer is a disease that happens later in life. While it is true that most cases of breast cancer are diagnosed to older women it is by no means an impossibility that a younger woman can also be diagnosed. The good news for younger women is that the chances of a diagnosis are less likely. The bad news is that a diagnosis of breast cancer to a younger woman is usually far more aggressive than in older women. Prevention and early detection should start early in life no matter what your risk, family tree or ethnicity. Below are some everyday tips and paths to early detection that can make all the difference:
Keeping a Healthy Weight: Being heavier not only increases your risk of contracting the disease but also greatly reduces the chances of survival if you are diagnosed.
Exercise Regularly: We all lead busy lives, however shooting for a goal of a exercising 45 minutes 5 days a week will help reduce your risk. This will boost your immune system, prevent obesity and lower your levels of estrogen and insulin.
Reduce Your Alcohol Intake: Research has shown that the risk of breast cancer increases 21% by consuming two or more alcoholic beverages per day.
Eat More Veggies: While a well balanced and low-fat diet will do a lot to reduce your risk, so will adding some cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale to your diet. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane which may prevent cancerous cells from multiplying. Eating them raw will up the prevention potential!
Examine Your Family Tree: “In about 15 percent of breast cancer cases, there is a family history of the disease,” says Harold Freeman, M.D., president and founder of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer and Prevention in New York City. Knowing your family history can make a huge difference in the route you take for prevention and early detection.
Get Checked Out: Regardless of family history, all women should have clinical breast exams every three years and then begin getting yearly mammograms starting at age 40. If you are at higher risk due to family history, yearly screenings should begin 10 years prior to the age of diagnosis of the family member.
Consider Genetic Counseling and Testing: A BRCA mutation is the connection between a cancer diagnosis and young women. Two indicators of a BRCA carrier is being of Eastern European Jewish decent and having a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Meeting with a genetic counselor can help you determine your chances of a diagnosis.