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What can I do to protect myself against breast cancer?
MammogramsMammography is still the best available tool to detect breast cancer in early stages. Most women who get breast cancer have no family history or known risk factors. The American Cancer Society guidelines call for yearly mammogram screenings beginning at age 40 for women at average risk of breast cancer. On the other hand, a 2009 USPSTF report recommends that women have mammograms every two years beginning at age 50. If you are unsure when and how often you should begin having mammograms, talk to your doctor and make the decision together.
Lifestyle changesBeing overweight increases your risk of breast cancer, particularly if the weight gain occurs after menopause. Drinking alcohol increases your risk; if you drink, limit yourself to no more than one drink a day. Activity that includes aerobic exercise and strength training helps control weight and improve immunity. Studies have indicated breast-feeding and discontinuing hormone therapy may both offer protection from breast cancer.
Dr. Jessica Carlson is a family medicine physician at Sanford North Clinic. She graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences at Grand Forks and completed her residency in family medicine at the UND Center of Family Medicine in Bismarck.