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Breast cancer awareness: Lifestyle factors that can reduce risk

Last updated: Oct 24, 2018

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as the pink ribbons abound, it’s the perfect time for women to be thinking about the things they can do to reduce their risk of breast cancer.

The expert staff at Summit Medical Group MD Anderson Cancer Center work hard to ensure that the message of risk reduction is heard, not just in October, but all year long.

Summit Medical Group MD Anderson breast surgeon  Diana Addis, MD, FACS, tries to impress upon her patients the need for a balanced, healthy lifestyle. “I counsel our patients for risk recurrence and factors in which they can reduce their risk, and I start off trying to identify patients who need assistance in reaching their ideal body weight.”

Dr. Addis said that the science is in on this one: Maintaining an ideal body weight definitely decreases breast cancer risk. But she warns against the implementation of fad diets or questionable supplement regimes. “We support our patients in trying to lose weight, but also encourage them to take small steps every day to attain their long-term goals.”

To educate people about just what those small steps could be, Summit Medical Group regularly offers nutritionists in to give talks to the community. Weight becomes an especially important factor for prevention of hormone-positive breast cancer, as the increased estrogen levels that often accompany increased fatty spores can be very problematic.

But even for those women who are at their ideal body mass, Dr. Addis said, exercise is critical. There’s definitive data that shows that if an individual is regularly involved in some kind of aerobic exercise, it not only reduces the risk of breast cancer, but also makes treatment more effective if cancer is detected.

Something that the science is not in on? Antiperspirant use, about which Dr. Addis said she gets asked all the time. So are antiperspirants linked to a higher incidence of breast cancer? “There’s no scientific data to back up that claim." She said that while it’s true that many breast cancers do arise in the upper outer quadrant, that’s only because that’s where a significant amount of breast tissue is.

While diet and weight do play important roles in risk reduction, Dr. Addis said that there’s really no substitute for regular mammograms. And to make that easier than ever for the busy women over age 40, Summit Medical Group now offers walk-in mammogram services, which don’t require an appointment or a prescription.

Summit Medical Group MD Anderson Cancer Center brings a higher level of breast care to northern New Jersey. Expert physician specialists and specially trained staff are equipped to provide comprehensive care,  including digital screening and mammography; GE SensorySuite to provide an easier mammogram experience; patient education and counseling; ultrasound; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); cyst and fine-needle aspiration; ultrasound-guided core and stereotactic biopsies; pathology review; breast surgery; breast-conserving techniques; sentinel lymph node mapping and biopsy; plastic and reconstructive surgery; rehabilitation; chemotherapy; radiation therapy; and support services.

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