October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and as a part of the education movement we want to shed light on how you can determine your breast cancer risk. There are certain risk factors that make you more predisposed to developing breast cancer. While some factors are out of your control, such as aging or genetic history, others you can change to lower your risk level. Not getting enough physical activity, being overweight, taking hormones, and excessively drinking alcohol all contribute to the risk of breast cancer.
Extra Weight And Breast Cancer Risk
Women who are overweight or obese, especially after menopause, have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. It may also contribute to recurrence in women who previously had the disease. This is because fat cells produce estrogen, and estrogen allows hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers to develop. Extra fat cells also result in chronic inflammation in the body, which has been linked to breast cancer recurrence.
How DEXA Scans Can Determine Risk
Measuring your weight on a bathroom scale and calculating your BMI are one way to get a baseline picture of your health. However, they aren’t nearly as accurate as a DEXA scan. A DEXA scan breaks up the percentages of muscle mass, bone density, and fat that makes up your body composition. You may have a normal BMI, but your body fat measurements may be higher or lower than what is considered healthy. The amount of fat in your body will be a better way to determine your breast cancer risk than BMI or weight alone. Studies have found that the more body fat women have, the higher their risk of breast cancer.
Lowering Your Breast Cancer RIsk
It’s important to get a DEXA scan to get a picture of your overall health and obtain your body composition measurements. If you find that you’re at higher risk of breast cancer, you can make healthy lifestyle changes as soon as possible to help lower your risk. A nutritious diet and consistent exercise are the best ways to maintain a healthy weight. The American Cancer Society at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week. Combined with a balanced diet, this can help lower your risk.
As you get older, even if you maintain a healthy weight it is recommended to visit the doctor annually for breast exams and ongoing risk assessment. Yearly mammograms and even a breast MRI can help monitor and catch signs for breast cancer early. Take the first step to maintaining breast health by scheduling a DEXA scan.