Is it Possible to Prevent Breast Cancer?

March 18, 2018
There's no method 100% certain method to prevent breast cancer. However, living a healthy lifestyle and paying attention to your doctor can help you have a good quality of life.

Breast cancer is one of the most diagnosed cancers worldwide in both men and women, according to data from the National Institute of Cancer. It’s a chronic and often incurable disease that occurs when breast tissue cells begin to grow abnormally. In this article we’ll be discussing whether it’s possible to prevent breast cancer.

Although it’s true that this disease doesn’t “warn” us, it is possible to detect it early (and thereby increase the chances of successful treatment) through self-examinations and regular mammograms.

According to the experts of the AECC, when breast cancer is detected in its initial stage, the chances of cure are almost 100%.

In addition, they recommend putting into practice a series of healthy habits that, even though they don’t always fully guarantee prevention, do contribute to minimizing the risks significantly.

What are the causes of breast cancer?

The causes of breast cancer are not 100% clear. Doctors agree that it occurs when some of the breast tissue cells begin to grow abnormally and quickly.

These cells can spread (metastasize) throughout the breast and other bodily tissues, as they move through the bloodstream and your lymphatic system.

Most cases start in the milk duct cells that produce breast milk. This is known as invasive duct carcinoma.

Cancer can also originate in glandular tissue or lobules, known as invasive lobular carcinoma.

Other types of cancer are formed on other tissues in the breast.

Risk factors

For years, some hormonal, environmental, and genetic factors have been identified as possible causes of breast cancer. However, it’s not clear why some people develop this disease and others don’t.

Related causes include:

  • Being a woman. Although men can also develop breast cancer, women are the most affected.
  • Age (the older the person, the more chances they have of developing the disease).
  • Having a personal or family history of breast cancer.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Starting your period at a very early age.
  • The use of hormonal therapies.
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  • Exposure to radiation.
  • Giving birth for the first time after 30 years of age.
  • Starting the menopause very late on.

Do you want to know more? Detecting breast cancer with a pill

Symptoms of breast cancer

prevent breast cancer

  • Changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • Changes in the skin covering the breast
  • A lump or thickening of the breast tissue
  • An nipple that inverts for the first time
  • Flaking in the pigmented skin around the nipple
  • Redness or small punctures in the skin around the breast.

Recommendations to prevent breast cancer

Due to the complexity of this disease, it’s impossible to discuss a 100% effective method for preventing breast cancer.

However, there are certain habits and recommendations that can reduce your risk of suffering from it, especially if any of the previously mentioned factors affect you.

1. Stay active

Women who lead an active lifestyle are less likely to develop the disease.

Physical activity helps keep estrogen levels in balance, which are key hormones for women’s health.

2. Avoid excess weight

Individuals who have a higher percentage of fat cells have a higher risk of cancer.

For that reason, it’s essential to adopt good habits and maintain a healthy and balanced weight.

3. Limit alcohol consumption

The consumption of alcoholic beverages has a negative impact on your health, and increases the risks of developing breast and other forms of cancer.

If you are at risk of developing breast cancer, it’s essential to avoid alcohol.

4. Choose to breastfeed

Breastfeeding is not only the best way to provide nutrients to your baby. It’s also a way to reduce your risk of breast cancer and other aggressive diseases.

5. Perform a monthly self-exam

Self-exams can be key in order to prevent of breast cancer. This evaluation will help you detect the presence of any abnormality in the breast tissue in a timely manner.

6-Request genetic testing

If you have a known family history of breast cancer, it’s a good idea to perform genetic testing to determine how high your risk is.

Your doctor, through a professional evaluation, will decide whether or not it’s necessary to start treatment.

A specialist with blood samples.

Are you worried about suffering from breast cancer? If you have reason to suspect that you have this disease, talk with your doctor as soon as possible and request the relevant tests.

In general, however, if you want to decrease your chances of developing breast cancer, start practicing the above tips and make them a part of your lifestyle. And, as always, if you have any questions, always consult your doctor.

  • A step-by-step guide to reducing your risk of breast cancer. Breastcancer.org [Document avaiable online].
  • Breast Cancer Risk and Prevention. American Cancer Society. [Document avaiable online].
  • Hashemi, Seyed & Karimi, Samieh & Mahboobi, Hamidreza. (2014). Lifestyle changes for prevention of breast cancer. Electronic physician. 6. 894-905. 10.14661/2014.894-905.
  • Sauter, Edward R. “Breast Cancer Prevention: Current Approaches and Future Directions.” European journal of breast health vol. 14,2 64-71. 1 Apr. 2018, doi:10.5152/ejbh.2018.3978
  • Thompson, P. & Stopeck, A. & Alberts, David & Hess, Lisa. (2008). Breast Cancer Prevention. 10.1007/978-3-540-68986-7_14.