A great deal of research has been done into what causes breast cancer and the risk factors (things that may increase your chance of getting breast cancer). There is no single cause of breast cancer, but a number of things are believed to increase the risk of getting it.
There are some risk factors you cannot change but, should know about so that you can be regularly checked for early signs of breast cancer. Examples of these risk factors are:
- A family history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Having radiation treatment to the chest earlier in your life
- Starting your periods early (before age 12) or having a late menopause (age 55 or later)
- If you think you might be high risk, you can be screened if you are younger than 50 and more often than every two years. Talk to your doctor or health care provider if this could apply to you.
These are some things that may increase your risk of getting breast cancer and which you can do something about:
- Being very overweight
- Not exercising
- Drinking too much alcohol. Canadian Standards for Women: 10 drinks a week / 2 per day (maximum)
- Eating a lot of fat, sugar and processed foods (eg: burgers, chips, candies, white bread) instead of a variety of healthy foods, especially fresh foods, such as fruit, vegetables, brown (wholewheat) bread and country food.
Making positive changes toward a healthier lifestyle, will make you feel healthier, give you more energy and reduce the risk of other cancers and illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.
We do understand that it can be really hard to lose weight, learn to exercise regularly, give up smoking, cut out or down on drinking and change your diet. Talk to your healthcare provider or try these links to get help:
- NWT Quitline to help stop smoking.
- NWT help with alcohol and other addiction issues: Getting Help with Addictions
- NWT advice on healthy eating, including food from the land: Food & Nutritional Food Fact Sheet