Three ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer

20 October 2015 | Healthy living

To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Daria Crepostnaia, World Cancer Research Fund’s former Health Information team outlines the ways in which you can reduce your risk of developing this disease.

Thanks to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, more and more women now know that breast cancer can be prevented through healthier lifestyle choices. However, many are yet to take action and make the necessary changes that can reduce their risk. To bridge this gap between awareness and action, why not try putting these healthy habits into practice today?

Keep your weight in check

Being a healthy weight is one of the best ways to protect yourself against breast cancer. The key to keeping trim is in the battle between how many calories you eat versus how many calories you burn. However, the good news is that you don’t have to count every calorie you eat – simply choosing healthier options and watching your portions can help you make sure you’re not offsetting the balance.

Eat the right foods

Fill up on wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and lean protein. Along with a range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, these come with the satiating power of fibre and protein, which will keep you full on fewer calories and stop you from reaching for calorie-rich snacks.

Choose a smaller plate

We are more likely to finish what’s on our plate than listen to our body’s signals telling us we are full. Choosing a smaller plate and serving smaller portions is a good way to prevent overeating.

Don’t eat out of the packet

It’s easy to assume that a single packet is ours to finish, but many of us don’t realise that a packet can often contain several portions, meaning we can overeat without even realising it. Check the food labels to see what a portion is and measure it out onto a plate.

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Cut down on alcohol

By simply avoiding drinking alcohol, every year, around 11,000 women could be saved from facing a breast cancer diagnosis. Not only does alcohol increase your risk of breast cancer, and many other cancers, it is also laden with empty calories that can cause weight gain. So, cutting back on how much you drink is a great step towards better health.

Choose the smallest drink

You can still enjoy an occasional tipple, but go for the smallest serving size, such as a small glass of wine or a single measure of slimline gin and tonic to keep alcohol and calories to a minimum.

Stay hydrated

Don't let being thirsty affect how fast and how much you drink. Satisfy your thirst with a glass of water or dilute your drink by adding soda water to a glass of wine or opt for a diet mixer.

Move more

Regular physical activity has many benefits – it can help you feel energised, relieve stress, sleep better, feel fitter and stronger, and helps to maintain a healthy weight, and to top it all off, it can reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Do more walking

Walking is a great way to step up your activity levels. Why not take a quick walk during your lunch break, get up to see a colleague instead of sending them an email or walk up the escalator on your commute home? These extra steps can really add up and they all contribute to your 150 minutes of weekly physical activity.

Get on your bike

Cycling is a great form of exercise that you can adapt to your fitness levels and fit around your routine – saddle up and explore a new area as a fun weekend activity, take the stress and expenses out of commuting by cycling instead or get the whole family involved and challenge them to a race.

Don't be powerless against breast cancer. Take control of your health and make a big difference to your future by making these small changes today.

Daria Crepostnaia | 20 October 2015