It's just as important to do what you can to lower your risk factors for breast cancer as it is to begin screening at the appropriate time. Early detection and prevention could make a world of difference for you.
The main risk factors for breast cancer are things you cannot change such as: being a woman, getting older, and having certain gene changes. But there are lifestyle-related breast cancer risk factors you CAN change to decrease your risk.
Drinking too much alcohol
Drinking alcohol in large amounts is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that women have no more than one alcoholic drink a day. A drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
Being overweight or obese
Being overweight or obese after menopause increases breast cancer risk. Before menopause your ovaries make most of your estrogen, and fat tissue makes a small amount. After menopause, most of the woman's estrogen comes from fat--having more fat after menopause can raise estrogen levels and increase your chance of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends you maintain a healthy weight throughout your life by balancing your food intake with physical activity.
Women who have not had children or who had their first child after 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk overall. Having many pregnancies and becoming pregnant at an early age reduces breast cancer risk. Still, the effect of pregnancy is different for different types of breast cancer.
For more risks you can control, visit the American Cancer Society website.
It is important to get regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer. For your ease and convenience, you can now have your mammogram at one of two locations: the UMC Breast Imaging Center at UMC or The UMC Breast Imaging Center at UMC Southwest Medical. We are honored to continue to serve you by empowering you to be proactive about your health.
When to begin screening
National Guideline recommendations are to begin screening at age 40. You do not have to be referred by your Primary Care Physician to be screened in the state of Texas! You should be screened with a mammogram every year.
A mammogram is not a substitute for knowing your breasts! A women should know how her breasts normally look and feel. Anytime there's a change, report it to your health care provider right away.
Speak to your care provider about a screening plan that is best for you, and schedule your mammogram today at 806.775.8600.