Breast Cancer Awareness Month

With one in two people being diagnosed with Cancer at some point in their lives it's a cause that affects everyone. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and can affect both men and women. However, over a quarter of breast cancer cases are preventable and studies have shown that by making changes to our lifestyles we can reduce our chances of getting cancer significantly, which is why we have partnered with Breast Cancer UK to share their message on the little things we can do.

Lavender Hill supports Breat Cancer UK

Below our 5 tips on what to look out for and how was can reduce our risk with scientific research to back the suggestions. 

Breast Cancer Awareness

1. Check our breasts

Healthy breasts come in all shapes, sizes, and densities. But it’s important to recognise when something’s not right. Checking your breasts for any unusual changes can help discover breast cancer early.

  • Check at the same time every month (avoiding periods). 
  • Look for changes in your breasts - are they swollen, inflamed, dimpled, has a rash appeared?
  • Look for changes in your nipple - are they sunken, crusty, producing discharge? 
  • Look for changes you can feel, are there fixed or moving lumps? 
  • Walk your fingertips in a spiral around the whole of your breast and under your
    armpits to check for changes.

Please do not forget that nine out of ten lumps are completely harmless but if you find one please get it checked. 

Breast Cancer Awareness

2. Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink

Why are we being recommended to do this? 

The most well established dietary risk factor for breast cancer is alcohol. Scientific evidence suggests a strong relationship between alcohol and breast cancer (5, 6), especially oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer (7). There is evidence that even very low alcohol intake (less than one glass per day) can increase your risk of breast cancer (8). Drinking alcohol increases levels of serum oestrogens, which are associated with increased breast cancer risk (9). Alcohol metabolism (breakdown in the body) produces harmful metabolic products - acetaldehyde and “reactive oxygen species” - which can damage cells. They are carcinogenic (cancer causing) and can accumulate within breast tissue (10). 

wellbeing tips

3. Get more exercise

Why are we being recommended to do this?
The effect exercise has on reducing your risk of breast cancer is considerable, especially for postmenopausal women. The more exercise, the greater the benefit; although research suggests increasing physical activity of any kind is beneficial (11). Moderate exercise (150 minutes per week) is estimated to reduce breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women by 20-30% (12). Exercise helps to reduce body fat. This will reduce levels of oestrogen and other hormones which fat cells release into the bloodstream (these hormones can increase breast cancer risk; 13).
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How to have a happy healthy lifestyle

4. Improve your diet

Why are we being recommended to do this?
There is strong evidence that excess weight is a risk factor for post-menopausal breast cancer (15) and that high vegetable and fruit intake lowers risk (16). Fat cells are the main source of oestrogen for post-menopausal women, and high levels of circulating oestrogen are known to increase breast cancer risk (see box on page 1). A “Mediterranean style diet” is one example of a healthy diet that has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women (17, 18). It is mainly based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, cereal grains, olive oil and fish. 
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5. Reduce your exposure to chemicals that may be harmful

Why are we being recommended to do this?

We are exposed to numerous synthetic, potentially harmful chemicals on a daily basis, from the household cleaners we use to the food we eat. Increasing exposure to chemicals that have the ability to interfere with our hormones (known as endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs) may be contributing to the increase in breast cancer. Although more research is needed to determine whether EDCs increase breast cancer risk, Breast Cancer UK advocate a precautionary approach which means avoiding chemicals that are suspected of being harmful. There are around 143, 000 registered substances on the market in the EU (19). The majority of these have not been tested for their hormone disrupting properties (20). There are over 1300 known or suspected EDCs (21). Some (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls and the insecticide DDT - now banned) are known to increase breast cancer risk; others (e.g. bisphenol A, parabens and phthalates) are suspected of doing so (22). 
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Would you like to discover more preventative measures we can take? If so, please click here to discover Breast Cancer UK's prevention hub. 
Click here to discover the scientific research behind the above suggestions.