As we get older, the risk of developing cancer increases. The three most common types of cancer in women include colorectal, lung, and breast cancers. These three types make up around 50% of new diagnoses in women as of 2020.
The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be approximately 287,850 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed and around 43,250 deaths this year.
The American Cancer Society reported an incidence rate increase of .5% annually in recent years. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, following lung cancer. If you are a woman, the chances of dying from breast cancer are around 1 in 39 or 2.6%.
Early detection and better treatment options have started to improve the yearly statistics. Breast cancer deaths have been steadily trending down in women over age 50. They have remained relatively steady in women under age 50.
Certain demographics face an increased risk of cancer-related death. Black women have the highest mortality rates. This is attributed to triple-negative breast cancer. In cases of triple-negative cancer, no estrogen or progesterone receptors are present, and they do not produce too much HER2 protein. This makes all 3 tests come up negative even though the patient has cancer.
Over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors live in the United States right now.
We cannot eliminate the chances of developing cancer, but we can take steps to keep our risk as low as possible. The following list outlines things that any woman can do now to help prevent cancer.
· Stay at a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy body weight can help you avoid a list of potential health problems. Stick to a leaner diet with proper portioning and fewer calories. Eat less refined sugars and fat derived from animal sources.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that being obese increases your risk of developing 13 types of cancer. These types make up around 40% of all cancer diagnoses in the United States.
You can consult a Body Mass Index (BMI) chart to see where you fall. It is also helpful to talk to your doctor to ensure that your target weight is ideal based on your build and health status.
· Limit Processed Meats in Your Diet
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer found that eating more processed meats increases cancer risk. Large quantities can lead to a slight increase of certain cancers.
Processed meats include anything that has been cured, salted, fermented, smoked, or gone through other processes to preserve or enhance flavor. Common examples include sausage, ham, pepperoni, beef jerky, hot dogs, and deli meats.
Eating too much processed meat can increase your risk of colorectal cancers as well as chronic diseases. The World Cancer Research Fund recommends avoiding these types of meat completely and limiting red meat intake to under 500g (cooked) per week.
· Eat More Vegetables and Fruits Daily
Your daily diet should include plenty of nutritious vegetables and fruits as well as foods from plant sources like beans and whole grains.
A study in Japan found that people who ate citrus fruits or drank citrus juice 3 to 4 times per week were less likely to get cancer compared to those who only had citrus 2 days a week or fewer.
Vegetables are just as beneficial. Plants produce phytochemicals that are believed to protect cells from damage. These chemicals are also anti-inflammatory.
Eating more fiber will also help. One study found that young women who stuck to fiber-rich diets were 25% less likely to develop breast cancer when they got older.
· Drink Alcohol in Moderation
The occasional alcoholic beverage isn’t a problem for most people but drinking often can lead to health issues. Alcohol is one of the most avoidable risk factors. Its use makes up around 6% of all cancers and 4% of cancer deaths in the U.S.
According to researchers, when the human body metabolizes alcohol, it creates acetaldehyde. This toxic chemical is a probable human carcinogen. It can damage DNA and proteins. Researchers also believe that heavy drinking impairs the body’s ability to break down and absorb nutrients and can increase levels of estrogen in the bloodstream, a hormone linked to breast cancer.
Along with alcohol, women should also avoid tobacco. Epidemiologists have found that people who use both alcohol and tobacco have a significantly higher risk of oral, throat, and esophagus cancer compared to those who only use one or the other.
· Live an Active Lifestyle
Being physically active will help keep your body weight in check, which improves your odds of not getting cancer. Exercise sessions are recommended as well as recreational activities that get the body moving.
Along with burning calories, a good workout strengthens the immune system, lowers levels of insulin, and regulates sex hormones in the body. All of these can lower your risk of developing cancer and help with treatment in those who are already diagnosed with the disease.
· Use Sun Protection When Outdoors
Skin cancer is another concern, especially for women who spend a lot of time outdoors. The American Cancer Society predicts that 99,780 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2022, including around 42,600 in women. Around 7,650 people will lose their lives to melanoma.
Putting on sunscreen has been shown to lower incidences of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.
Other preventative measures include staying in shade, wearing clothing that covers the skin, putting on a wide-brim hat, and wearing sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection. Always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher if you are going outside or will otherwise be in sunlight.
· See a Doctor As Soon As Anything Changes
Changes in the body are signs that something is happening. It doesn’t always mean you have cancer, but it can be an early warning.
If you notice any changes in your body, seek medical advice right away. Your doctor can determine the cause and advise you if treatment is needed.
· Schedule Regular Cancer Screenings
One of the biggest tools we have in our cancer prevention arsenal is early detection. The sooner your doctor knows you have cancer, the better your odds of a good outcome.
If you have questions or are concerned about cancer risk, request a visit today. Visit Complete Women’s Healthcare now to schedule an appointment for a consultation and cancer screenings.