So, you’ve just found out you have dense breast tissue. While having dense breast tissue is completely normal and healthy, it can mean that you are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Though you may not be able to control your breast density, the good news is that there are ways to care for yourself that will increase your overall health as well as help reduce your risk of breast cancer.
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Studies have shown that women who are low on vitamin D and dietary calcium are at higher risk for developing breast cancer. Vitamin D is what helps your body absorb calcium to support strong bone health and both nutrients may be directly tied to stopping breast cancer cells from growing.
Vitamin D has also been tied to regulating immune health, muscle function, and brain cell activity. This is why it’s so alarming that 42% of the US population is vitamin D deficient. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to direct sunlight, but you can also get it in nutritional supplements or in your diet through fatty fish, like salmon or tuna. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, most people were forced to stay indoors and many developed a vitamin D deficiency from that, but skin cancer awareness has also been a cause for reduced sun exposure among Americans.
Women going through menopause are particularly susceptible to vitamin D deficiency so it’s important for them to monitor both their calcium and vitamin D levels to help reduce breast cancer risk and bone weakness.
It’s important to note that too much calcium and vitamin D can have unwanted side effects and it’s best that you discuss the decision to take dietary supplements with your doctor.
Average breast density naturally decreases with age, however, there are some factors that may cause you to retain dense breast tissue even as you surpass menopause.
Premenopausal women with high alcohol consumption have been known to have a higher breast density compared to those who drink less alcohol. There have been no studies that show that postmenopausal women have the same results, but it’s safe to say that alcohol is not your “breast friend” in regard to cancer prevention.
There are conflicting studies on caffeine in regard to lower breast density and the risk of breast cancer. Some show that there is no correlation and some show that ingesting caffeine can actually lower the breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.
However, it is known that caffeine can affect your hormones, particularly your estrogen levels. Odelia Lewis, MD, a medical contributor to ABC News Medical Unit puts it like this:
“Drinking caffeine can increase estrogen levels in women, sometimes leading to an estrogen-dominant state. Estrogen dominance is associated with premenstrual syndrome, heavy periods, fibrocystic breasts, and even certain breast cancers. Estrogen dominance is usually associated with low progesterone levels.”
Cutting out or limiting your caffeine intake would better your health all the way around, even if it’s only indirectly related to breast cancer.
It’s an old tune, but the message still resonates within everyone’s body; drink water.
Hydration is very important, especially when guarding against breast cancer. Water supports nearly every single one of your body’s functions, including digestion, the regulation of a healthy body temperature, and the elimination of toxins.
Staying hydrated can also encourage the growth, survival, and reproduction of healthy cells in your body, which can reduce your risk of developing several cancers, including breast cancer.
When trying to stay hydrated, it’s important to avoid beverages that have sugar, as sugar has the opposite effect on your body. If you find yourself wanting something sweet, consider adding fruit to your water.
Women who follow a regular Western diet of high-fat dairy products, red meat consumption, and high-sugar foods are at greater risk of maintaining dense breast tissue and are more inclined to develop breast cancer.
Additionally, this diet often causes excess weight gain, which is very dangerous for adults and postmenopausal women as obesity raises estrogen levels and causes the overproduction of insulin. Both of these side effects have been linked to breast cancer.
To reduce the risk of breast cancer, you should eat more than 5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day, eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon, flaxseed, and canola oil), try to reduce your saturated fat intake, and avoid processed foods, trans fats, and smoked food.
Regular exercise is helpful for your body in many ways and even though it does not break down tissue in dense breasts, it’s particularly helpful in guarding against breast cancer. Research shows that women who exercise on a normal basis have a much lower risk of developing breast cancer than those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle.
By exercising for at least 30 minutes every day, you can not only help prevent cancer, but you can promote an overall healthier mindset.
Time and menopause are the only things that can significantly reduce breast density, but by following these tips, you can help decrease your overall risk of breast cancer. Keep in mind, however, that even those at lower risk are not exempt from the ever-present disease that has taken so many lives.
By getting a breast cancer screening regularly, you can have a better chance of catching any issues early, while they’re easier to treat. This is why Eve Wellness chose to provide breast ultrasound technology that allows for frequent, radiation-free scans so as to aid in the cancer detection (and recovery) effort.
Cancer is not a fun thing to think about, but by prioritizing your health at Eve Wellness, you can help protect both your breasts and your life.
So, you’ve just found out you have dense breast tissue. While having dense breast tissue is completely normal and healthy, it can mean that you are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Though you may not be able to control your breast density, the good news is that there are ways to care for yourself that will increase your overall health as well as promote breast cancer prevention.