Certain lifestyle changes may help you manage your cancer and are important for overall quality of health.

General guidelines

  • Limit exposure to estrogen when possible
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • Exercise regularly

Limit exposure to estrogen when possible

High levels of estrogen have been linked to the development of breast cancer. For older women, the greatest exposure to estrogen is via postmenopausal hormone replacement. However, estrogen replacement therapy also appears to provide protection against heart disease. Therefore, you should have a frank conversation with your doctor as to the risks and benefits of estrogen replacement relative to breast cancer.

Other lifestyle factors may also increase your exposure to estrogen. If possible, try to limit these factors:

  • Overweight after the age of menopause
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Physical inactivity

Maintain healthy weight

Being overweight—particularly after menopause—may increase your chances of developing breast cancer. This is due to the fact that after menopause, most of the estrogen in a woman’s body comes from her fat tissue. The more fat on the body, the higher the degree of estrogen.

Limit alcohol consumption

Studies have shown that women who drink 2 – 4 alcoholic drinks daily have a 40% greater risk of developing breast cancer than non-drinkers. This might be due to the fact that alcohol can alter the way a woman's body metabolizes estrogen. This may cause blood estrogen levels to rise, increasing the risk of breast cancer onset.

Avoid tobacco products

Smoking increases your risk of several cancers, including breast cancer.

Exercise regularly

Exercise helps maintain weight and modulates high levels of estrogen. It is also believed that low to moderate levels of exercise may enhance the immune system, which ultimately may slow the growth rate, or kill cancer cells. Overall, exercise has many benefits, and is recommended for overall health and reducing the risk of breast cancer.

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