If you’re concerned about breast cancer, you may be wondering if there are steps you can take toward breast cancer prevention, and thankfully, there actually are. Just by understanding the lifestyle factors that may affect your risk of breast cancer and what you can do to stay healthy, is a start in the right direction.
According to The Mayo Clinic, prevention begins with various factors you can control. For example: limiting alcohol intake, watching your weight, get plenty of exercise, breastfeed your children, discontinue hormone therapy and avoid exposure to environmental pollutants- to name a few.
And, according to recent research that analyzed environmental causes of breast cancers suggests that there may be one more prevention method, and that is to avoid unnecessary medical imaging, researchers say.
The report, released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed the available data as of December concerning potential environmental risks for breast cancer, said Science Daily. Factors such as pesticides, beauty products, household chemicals, and plastics used in the manufacture of water bottles were reviewed.
The IOM report concluded that there was insufficient data to confirm or rule out that exposure to most of potential environmental risks caused breast cancer; however, the report did find that two factors did increase this risks, said Science Daily. Both post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and radiation exposure from medical imaging led to increased risks for breast cancer.
A special article in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine details the findings of the IOM report concerning the issue of medical imaging and what women can do to minimize their risk of breast cancer, said Science Daily. “The single thing that the IOM highlighted that a woman can do to lower her risk of breast cancer is to avoid unnecessary medical imaging,” said Rebecca Smith-Bindman, MD, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging, epidemiology, and biostatistics at UCSF, who wrote the article, and who contributed to the IOM report, wrote Science Daily.
Women must speak with their physicians and make informed decisions, ensuring testing is necessary as well as discussing the safety of any radiological scans to which they must be subjected, Smith-Bindman told Science Daily. Although Smith-Bindman noted that CT scans and other medical imagery have made life-saving progress in the field of medicine, women “should understand the risks and benefits and ask their doctor to explain the risks and benefits.”
Smith-Bindman suggested that patients ask their doctors if the scan is absolutely necessary at the time when suggested; if there are other, alternative tests; and for information to ensure that testing will be conducted in the safest way possible. Patients should also ask if having scan information changes the disease management process and if there is time to see a specialist first, said Science Daily.
The article, “Environmental Causes of Breast Cancer and Radiation from Medical Imaging/Findings from the Institute of Medicine Report” by Rebecca Smith-Bindman appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine on June 11, 2012.
The study was commissioned by breast cancer foundation Susan G. Komen for the Cure.