(Bryn Mawr, PA, October 23, 2015) – As the recent breast cancer screening recommendations released by the American Cancer Society continue to raise concerns across the medical community and among patients, Main Line Health reminds women that they have the ability to take charge of their breast health by taking proactive steps toward reducing their risk factors. From following a healthy diet to using safe beauty products and researching genetic testing opportunities, there are factors that women can control.
“Most breast cancers are related to how you lead your life, and it’s important to get to and stick to a healthy weight and exercise regularly,” says Marisa Weiss, MD, breast oncologist at Lankenau Medical Center and President and Founder of Breastcancer.org. “What you’re eating, what you’re drinking, what you’re breathing in, medicines you’re taking, personal products you’re using—these can all affect your breast health. The good news is that many of these factors can be modified to immediately lower your risk.”
Here are some of the most common things you can do—starting today—to decrease your cancer risk:
- Eat healthy and exercise often – A healthy diet, such as a Mediterranean diet, in addition to a regular fitness routine—working out three-to four hours a week (five-to seven are even better)—are important components of a healthy lifestyle, and that includes cancer prevention.
- Stop smoking – While smoking is most often considered a risk factor for lung cancer, the truth is that smoking can be a risk factor for almost every type of cancer. If you are currently a smoker, stop. The benefits of quitting smoking begin immediately, and the sooner you quit, the lower your cancer risk.
- Limit alcohol intake – There is room for alcohol in your diet, but limit it to five or fewer drinks a week (3 or fewer is even better). Equivalent drinks relative to alcohol content are: 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, 1.5 oz hard liquor.
- Avoid using cleaning and personal products that contain chemicals linked to cancer – research cleaning and personal care products (like makeup and shampoo) to find out if they contain chemicals that may be carcinogenic. To be safe, use personal care products in well-ventilated areas, open the window or turn on the bathroom fan when using products such as dryer sheets, fabric softeners, deodorizing sprays, all-purpose cleaners, dishwashing detergents, hand sanitizers, and lotions.
- Schedule your mammogram – Depending on your family history and other risk factors, you may need to begin screenings earlier than recommended. It’s important to talk with your physician about the appropriate time to begin regular screenings.
- Ask about genetic risk assessments – Learn about the role of genes, what to look for in your own family tree and what to do if you suspect a genetic cancer risk. Talk to your physician and learn more about genetic risk assessments.
- Think Pink, Live Green – Protect your breast health with education. Learn about risk factors in your environment, and how changing what you and your family eats, drinks, breathes and uses every day may reduce breast cancer risk. Visit https://livegreen.breastcancer.org/ to learn more.
“Following these breast healthy steps can also lower your risk of other cancers, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis,” adds Weiss.
Main Line Health is dedicated to improving breast health for women of all ages. We offer a comprehensive range of breast care services to meet a woman’s physical and emotional needs. To learn more, visit mainlinehealth.org/breast.
About Main Line Health
Founded in 1985, Main Line Health (MLH) is a not-for-profit health system serving portions of Philadelphia and its western suburbs. At its core are four of the region’s respected acute care hospitals—Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital and Riddle Hospital—as well as one of the nation’s premier facilities for rehabilitative medicine, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital; Mirmont Treatment Center for drug and alcohol recovery; and HomeCare & Hospice, a home health service. Main Line Health also consists of Main Line HealthCare, one of the region’s largest multi-specialty physician networks, and the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, a non-profit biomedical research organization located on the campus of Lankenau Medical Center. Main Line Health is also comprised of four outpatient health centers located in Broomall, Collegeville, Exton and Newtown Square. Main Line Health Hospitals, with more than 10,000 employees and 2,000 physicians, are the recipients of numerous awards for quality care and service, including System Magnet® designation, the nation’s highest distinction for nursing excellence. Main Line Health is among the area’s leaders in medicine, providing advanced patient-centered care, education and research to help our community stay healthy.