Slash Your Risk of Breast Cancer

Last week, I wrote about weighing the risk vs. benefit for any type of preventative therapy.  A new study on breast cancer risk factors sheds some light on the best places to focus efforts for prevention.  This is important, since:

  1. Women face a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, and
  2. Most risk factors are controllable.
It’s also important not to lose sight of the forest for the trees.  We all have limited time and energy, so focus attention on the risk factors that have the strongest evidence:
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Prolonged hormone replacement therapy
  • Alcohol use > 1 drink per day
  • Excessive radiation from medical tests (e.g., CT scans) early in life (before age 30)
  • Smoking or second-hand smoke
  • Night shift work
  • Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) and other plastics that act as estrogen-like compounds
Have any of these situations?  Worry about those before inconclusive risks such as cell phones or hair dye chemicals.  Also:  even though there has been a barrage of conflicting evidence in recent years, the bulk of the data comes down in favor of yearly mammograms for preventing breast cancer deaths.

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