God created our bodies to function in amazing ways. We start out as two cells that join together and grow into complete human beings in nine months. After birth, we grow and go through adolescence to become adults and, eventually, senior citizens. We might not live almost 1,000 years like Methuselah, but if we’re lucky, we’ll reach a ripe old age.
Unfortunately, diseases can cut our lives short. Breast cancer will be newly diagnosed in over 232,000 women in 2013, and almost 40,000 women will die of it, according to the American Cancer Society. There’s no way to fully ensure that you won’t be one of them, but you can do several things to help prevent breast cancer:
Don’t Smoke or Drink Alcohol
You don’t have to become a complete teetotaler, but the Mayo Clinic recommends having no more than one alcoholic beverage per day. Smoking is a complete no-no, especially if you’re pre-menopausal, because research points to a link between cigarettes and breast cancer.
Stay at a Healthy Weight
You’re more likely to develop breast cancer if you’re obese, according to the Mayo Clinic. The link is particularly strong after menopause, so keep up with good eating habits throughout your entire life.
Being physically active helps you shed excess pounds and keep them off, so it contributes to breast cancer prevention. At the very least, follow the Department of Health and Human Services guidelines by doing at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or 150 minutes of moderate activity every week.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Veggies and fruits are part of a healthy diet and, according to the American Cancer Society, they’re also a breast cancer preventative. Studies haven’t shown whether any specific fruits or vegetables are the most helpful, so eat a variety. Other good foods to stave off breast cancer include fish, poultry and low-fat dairy products.
Breast Feed Your Children
Breast feeding is a healthy option for your baby, but it can help you prevent breast cancer, too. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center says that women who breast feed for at least a year have a lower risk of getting breast cancer later in their lives.
Be Cautious about Using Hormone Therapy
The Mayo Clinic warns that being on combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years boosts your breast cancer risk. Help prevent it by asking your doctor about alternative therapies if you need help with menopausal symptoms. If you’re over 60 and have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about the potential benefits of taking an estrogen blocker to help prevent the disease.
Avoid Radiation Exposure
Many common medical procedures, like computerized tomography, expose you to excess radiation. Sometimes these tests are necessary, but avoid them whenever possible because radiation exposure makes you more likely to develop breast cancer. There’s also a possible link between the disease and environmental pollutants like car exhaust and gasoline fumes, so avoid breathing them for extended periods of time.
Get a Mastectomy
This is the most radical ways to prevent breast cancer, but some women who have a high genetic risk of developing the disease see it as a necessity. Even celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Sharon Osbourne have taken this preventative step because of their heightened risk.
The Mayo Clinic advises that there are certain reasons you might want to consider this procedure. They include having one or more family members who got breast cancer before the age of 50; a positive result from genetic testing that shows you have the mutations that cause breast cancer; dense breast tissue; and abnormal cells or other changes in your breast. If you had radiation therapy to your chest before you turned 30, you also have a greater likelihood of developing breast cancer.
Deciding whether to do something as radical as this surgery is a major choice that needs to be made after careful consultation with your doctor. You can also go to the Lord in prayer for his guidance.
Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. —Proverbs 3:4-5
Talk to God about your dilemma and He’ll speak the right answer to your heart.