It’s great that every October, efforts are made to increase awareness of breast cancer. To be clear, though, you probably won’t get this illness.
In the United States, the estimated lifetime risk for a woman to get breast cancer is about 8% (about 1 in 12). While this is a high percentage, it is a CUMULATIVE lifetime risk. The actual risk for a woman at each particular age is much less, all the individual numbers adding up to the 8% over the course of her whole life. Read here for more.
In any case, because you are here reading what I am writing, you are probably interested in learning about disease prevention. So this year for Breast Cancer Awareness month I want to review my most basic recommendations on how to prevent breast cancer, or detect it very early.
First, and most important – prevention:
1. Vitamin D – In 2020 it was “breaking news” that people have better outcomes if they get sick with the current pandemic illness if their level of Vitamin D is higher. As my dear reader, you have long known that Vitamin D is actually a hormone, that it plays a huge supporting role in the immune system, and it actually has direct anti-cancer activity. This Is how Vitamin D kills cancer.
2. Reduce unhealthy fats – this especially applies in the teen years when the breasts are developing. Since as my reader you are likely past that age and stage, your efforts as an adult to reach and keep a healthy overall body weight will impact your breast health. Most of the breast tissue is fat, which produces estrogen inside the breast. This probably matters more to your risk of developing breast cancer than the estrogen floating around (either HRT or what the rest your body fat makes).
3. Supplements – Despite conflicting data, at this time it is clear to me that some supplements can help. We already mentioned Vitamin D, and there are also supplements that encourage better metabolic pathways in the processing of estrogen (“better” meaning lowering the risk of developing breast cancer).
Then, early detection:
4. Mammograms – Although I support thermograms, I still recommend mammograms. The biggest downside of a mammogram is that you might get a biopsy that does not show cancer. Even with a benign result, this can be a scary process. However, especially if you are over 50, current data is clear that annual mammograms save lives by catching a breast cancer early enough to put you in the 95+% chance of survival.
A mountain of other data gets discussed regarding the impact on breast cancer incidence of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, animal proteins and so on. My current conclusion is: everything in moderation.
With everything I have learned about how incredible our bodies are at catching and getting rid of early cancer cells, we can support this process with everything we do to live our best lives and take the best care of the one precious body we were each given at birth.