Articles on colorectal cancer

10 Symptoms of Cancer Which Nobody Should Ignore

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
Cancer is an unwanted growth of cells that destroys the healthy environment of the body. The fear associated with it is not because of the disease itself, but, because of the delayed diagnosis due to lack of clear symptoms. Here are a list of commonly ignored symptoms which could be warning signs of cancer. Cancers are PAINLESS when they start and so they get ignored by the patient and doctors alike. Anemia: Tiredness in cancer is usually due anemia (lack of blood) and deficiency of nutrition. The cancer eats up most of nutrients in its race to grow quickly. Also there bleeding from cancer tissue that makes one anemic.Blood while passing stool: very often this is due to piles or similar causes. However, cancer of colon and rectum also causes this. When anyone has blood in stool, it is advisable to do colonoscopy to look inside of colon. Cancer of colon can cause change in bowel habit (like alternating constipation and diarrhea)Blood in urine: This always require further tests.  Cancer of kidney or urinary bladder or prostate (among men) can cause blood in urine. The bad part is this bleeding can be infrequent. This infrequency makes patients ignore this symptom. Even one episode of blood in urine needs through examination.Bleeding in between periods (women): Any bleeding that does not follow the usual pattern of menstrual period is a warning sign. Cancer of uterus or cervix can present with this kind of symptoms. Patients with cervical cancer also have bleeding after having sexual intercourse. A patch or wound inside mouth: Oral or mouth cancers are common in India. These cancers start as a patch or wound and progress over months. If diagnosed early they can be treated effectively. Lump or swelling: Cancers of breast and limb begin as painless lumps or swellings and progress over months. Any newly appearing lumps or swellings should be completely investigated. Loss of weight without trying: A sudden weight loss when you are not dieting needs investigations. As cancer consumes most of the nutrition that you take, you tend to loose wt. Loss of appetite and bloating food: this could be because of obstruction to bowel or because of a cancer secreting its toxic substances. Thorough examination is needed to reach a diagnosis. Lymph node enlargement: Lymph nodes are present everywhere in the body and function as filters. Most of the times they enlarge due to infections. The cancer cells also get filtered in this nodes and are trapped. They grow in these nodes and the nodes enlarge as a result of this growth. Trouble swallowing or vomiting after taking food are both warning signs of a cancers in the digestive tract. These need to be evaluated with endoscopic tests to identify the cause. Some patients have only persistent heart-burns which is misdiagnosed as gastritis and treated only for months before correct diagnosis reveals itself. Pain is the last feature of cancer. Do not wait for it.

Cancer Can Happen to Anyone! Just Avoid These

Dr. Rajat Sachdeva, Dentist
Studies suggest that approximately 44% men and 39% women are susceptible to develop Cancer in their lifetime which is scary news! Now, studies have been conducted all over the world which provides some statistics which shows that there are some definitive conclusions which can be related to cause of cancer. There are number of risk which we will discuss to create awareness about the ‘Dreaded’ cancer to help people to get clear perspective about it.SmokingThe biggest factor in today’s time which is considered life threatening is Smoking! It is a risk factor for Lung cancer, Cancer of mouth, throat, tongue, palate etc. It has become a status symbol to smoke and considered being cool, many of which are passively exposed by their spouses and relatives which puts them at risk of danger too. Smoking should be banned at home and office etc places to avoid other people from the risk of developing heart conditions.Chewable tobacco The tobacco people chew and doesn’t causes smoke is very prevalent in Asian countries like India which is no good than smoking and causing precancerous lesions and conditions before converting into cancer. It is equally harmful as smoking. Avoid!AlcoholSpirits generally include Whisky and brandy. But the new studies show that drinking one or two of the spirits or beer can increase the risk of a woman to have breast cancer. Consider to avoid alcohol or if that’s not possible then or if you find that difficult, try and reduce the intake slowly and gradually.Oh! The sunThe actinic radiation in sunlight is considered to causes Keratotic lesions on the lips of farmers who generally work really long hours in the fields; but the melanin pigmentation on the lips protects the malignant conversion in most cases.Environment smogMany chemicals escape from industrial smokestacks and industries including suspected carcinogens. Benzene comes out in car exhaust. Factors those favors ozone buildup and lead to smog alerts may cause these chemicals to build up. In order to prevent yourself from pollution, avoid exercise near high traffic areas and on polluted days try to stay indoors mostly during smog alerts.Lifestyle disordersExercising daily for at least 30 minutes daily keeps weight in control, may reduce risk of several cancers, mostly colon and breast cancer and also helps in preventing heart disease, diabetes and bone loss.Choosing the wrong foodResearchers have found out high levels of the carcinogen agents in French fries and potato chips. Try to avoid charred meat, limit the consumption of red meat to reduce your risk of colon cancer. Cut down on the fatty fish like carp, catfish, bass, king mackerel etc. Always choose a well balanced diet rich in fiber like lentils and whole grains and low in fat along with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Worried About Cancer: Life Style Modification to Reduce the Risk

Dr. Sunny Jain, Oncologist
You can save yourself from cancer. I am sure you are eager to know how you can actually do that.The rampant increase in the number of cancer cases is an outcome of the faulty modern lifestyle, eating habits, addictions and the worsening environmental changes. Yes, genes and hormones play an important role, but the other factors deserve equal blame.Inculcating good habits like quitting smoking, alcohol abstinence, practising regular yoga, eating natural and antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables and maintaining healthy body weight can help keep cancer at bay. Importantly, incorporating regular exercise in your daily schedule can go a long way in protecting yourself from cancer. It significantly reduces the cancer cases. A study reveals as much as 25% reduction in breast cancer rate among women who exercise regularly compared to those who do not.For all those who are curious to know how exercise helps abate cancer, let me tell you enough research has been done to understand the role of regular physical activity in killing cancer cells. Have a look at what such researches have concluded:Particularly in women, physical activity lowers the level of a female hormone oestrogen. High levels of oestrogen are associated with higher risk of breast and uterine cancer. Regular exercise is highly recommended in post menopausal women to reduce the risk of these cancers.In cancer, cells of the body multiply uncontrollably. Insulin is the hormone that can turn on the multiplication of cells. Exercise helps to lower the insulin levels in the body and prevent multiplication of cells that occurs during cancer.Physical activity also prevents colon cancer. As we exercise, it promotes the bowel movement. Faster transit of the harmful chemicals from processed meat and other processed food items prevents the damage to the lining of the bowels. Exercise curbs the inflammation that happens due to such damage. Repeated inflammation and replacement of dead cells by new cells can trigger abnormal growth of cells, which leads to cancer. Thus, exercising helps against colon cancer.Exercise reduces stress and fatigue, makes you feel fresh and boosts immunity to prevent cancer. Physical activity keeps a check on your weight and eventually checks out cancer.How much to exercise:A daily 30 minute moderate exercise like walking, slow swimming, playing an outdoor sport like tennis is recommended.A 20 minute vigorous exercise 3-4 times a week like jogging, running, cycling or swimming is ideal.Complement these with muscle strengthening exercises for upper and lower body like push ups,weights etc twice a week.Say good bye to a sedentary life style, to embrace a healthier, cancer- free life.

Cancer: Just Bad Luck!

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
"I have no bad habits, why did I get it?"A research paper published in January 2015 in a reputed journal called Science made a lot of eyebrows raise! The media across the globe quoted this paper to call cancer only to be a matter of ‘bad luck’ in a way conveying that what one does (lifestyle) just does not matter.The paper in concern was designed to understand why some tissues in the body were more prone to cancer (e.g. colon) compared to other (e.g. brain). The final interpretation of the study was that the chance of developing cancer depended on the rate at which those cells multiplied normally. For example, the cells in colon need to multiply at a very high rate when compared to brain cells, which may hardly ever multiply. This makes colon cancer much more common.  This study was not based on population study, but, based on cells in tissue culture in laboratories. They compared about 31 research papers to conclude that occurrence of cancer is more common in cells that are multiplying at high rate, just as a matter of luck. These mutations (error in copying of DNA), if not corrected by body, could lead to cancer. Error in copying does occur every day, however, they are corrected immediately. But in cells that are multiplying very fast, these changes may be missed in haste and lead to cancer formation. And this is just a matter of luck.All the lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, etc. contribute to cancer causation by increasing the multiplication of cells. It is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the environmental factors have a great role to play in causing cancer. The elements that increase rate of cell multiplication in various tissues include environmental factors (pollution, tobacco, etc.) or infections (hepatitis) or others. Anything that increases the rate of cell multiplication can cause cancer. However, cancer can occur in the absence of these stimuli as well and in those cases it is due to bad luck. These are mainly due to errors in DNA copying. For this reason, the strategies of cancer prevention still hold good. Though they fail to prevent or detect all cancers, they would pickup a significant number of them.  However, in the absence of these causative factors sheer bad luck leading to copying error which goes uncorrected can cause to cancer. 

Changing Face of Colorectal (Bowel) Cancer in India

Dr. Maruthesh Gowda, Bariatric Surgeon
Colorectal cancer is cancer affecting the large intestine, and rectum. There has been rapid increase in colorectal cancer in India and this can be attributed to                                                                                               1. Increasing life expectancy        2.  Changing life style to western                                                                       Most cases occur above the age of 50. It is true that if detected early then colorectal cancer can be cured.      How does Colorectal cancer develop?Contrary to belief it take years to develop colorectal cancer. It develops from the inner lining of bowel (mucosa). Initially it forms a polyp which over the time turns into cancer. Tumor then starts to invade through different layers of bowel wall then into to lymph nodes near by.  If undetected, it can eventually spread to different parts of the body. Most of these cancer are on the left side. (see pic)Is there treatment for polyp? Yes. Most polyps do not contain cancer cells. Removal of polyp will be sufficient to prevent the cancer from developing.After removing the polyp, if cancer cells are found then it alone is sufficient if cancer cells are confined to polyp, however, if the cancer cells have spread to colon then further surgery is advised if necessary. What are risk factors for Colorectal cancer?Increases with ageWestern life style Genetic factor (First degree relative having colorectal cancer)Long term inflammatory bowel disease (Crohns, Ulcerative colitis)What reduces the chances of having colorectal cancer?Hormonal replacement therapy for womanVegetarian dietWhat are symptoms of colorectal cancer?Initially there might be no symptoms or very little symptoms and become more when the cancer grows in sizeChange in bowel habit either to constipation or passing too many  timesSensation of incomplete emptying after passing motionBlood mixed with the stoolPassing mucus with stoolSensation fullness after eating littleAbdominal distensionAbdominal painWeight lossWhat tests are needed before surgery?Colonoscopy and biopsy to prove it is cancer is a must unless its an emergencyCT scan to asses the spread inside the abdomen and chest MRI of pelvis if cancer is in rectumWhat are the treatment options?If it affects colon:  Surgery is done first. After excision the cancer is looked under microscope, if it has spread to lymph nodes then chemotherapy might be needed post op.If it affects rectum: In first two stages then surgery first. If 3rd/4th stage then chemo radiotherapy first is absolutely must. Chemo-radiotherapy is given first then operating reduces risk of recurrence from 85% to 5% (See Pic)If in Anal canal:  Chemo radiotherapy is main stay of treatment.How is Surgery done?If the patient is fit cancer surgery can be done safely with keyhole (Laparoscopic) with 3 or 4 small incisions. Usually the cut ends are joined using special stapler. In certain cases, colostomy can be done if the joining is thought to be risky. The options will be discussed with risk/benefits before surgery. Can the colorectal cancer be cured?Yes, if found in early stages. Even if it has spread to lymph nodes, then also it is curable. People with liver metastasis can also be cured at times.                                                                                                                                                           

Understanding Cancer Better

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
What is cancer?Cancer is the name given to a group of diseases that behave similarly. There is a wide range of cancers which are characterised by an uncontrolled division of body's cells without halting and thereby, spread into surrounding tissues pushing normal cells.Cancer can begin at any place in the human body, which is comprised trillions of cells. Regularly, human cells divide and shape into new cells as the body needs them. At the point when cells get senile or get harmed, they bite the dust, and new cells assume their position. When the organised procedure of cell growth fails, cancer begins. Cells turn out to be increasingly irregular in shape and size, and continue to survive even when they ought to die, and new cells are formed even when they are not required. These cells can multiply without any reason and may form what is called tumours. Cancerous tumours are harmful, which implies that they can spread into, or attack, adjacent tissues. Moreover, as these tumours develop, some cancer cells can escape and go to far off spots in the body through the blood or the lymph framework and shape new tumours a long way from the first tumours.Why worry about cancer?Cancers figure among the main causes of morbidity and mortality around the world, with roughly 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths every year. In the next two decades, it is estimated that the incidence of cancer will increase by 70% throughout the world. Among men, the five most common cancers in 2012 were lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancer.In women, the five most common cancers are breast, colorectal, lung, cervix, and stomach cancer.Around 33% of cancer deaths can be prevented by behavioural and dietary changes. The risks include high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use.Read my blogs on early detection of cancer and cancer prevention to understand how to reduce your risk.

On World Cancer Day 2016: Let Us Understand Cancer Better!

Dr. Sahil Chheda, Dentist
World Cancer Day is celebrated annually on 4th of February to deepen our understanding of this killer disease. This year the campaign focuses on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration that is to reduce stigma and dispel myths about cancer with the tagline, "Debunk the myths".There has been enough research to validate that food acts as the most promising ammunition to fight the battle against cancer. Keeping in with this year's campaign we bring to you six common queries.1) What is the most common cause of cancer?Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells. There are around 100 types of cancer. The most common types of cancer are - Men: Lung, esophagus, stomach, oral and pharyngeal cancers. Women: Cervix and breast cancers.Cancer has many possible causes, the prominent ones being -Genetics: Certain cancers run in families. For example, certain mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes greatly increase a person's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.Smoking: Cigarette smoking accounts for around 30% of all cancer deaths. It is linked with increased risk of these cancers - lungs, larynx, oral cavity, nose and sinuses, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, cervix, kidney, bladder, ovary, colon, rectum and acute myeloid leukemia. Chewing of tobacco, a carcinogen, is linked to dental caries, gingivitis, oral leukoplakia, and oral cancer.Diet and Lifestyle: Research shows that a poor diet and not having an active lifestyle are the key factors that can increase a person's risk of developing cancer.Three things to keep in mind in order to stay cancer free:- Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout your life.- Be physically active on a regular basis.- Make healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods.2) What are the foods that up the risk of developing cancer?Some cancers like that of the stomach have a more direct relationship with food. Foods which should be consumed in moderation to avoid the incidence of cancer are -Processed meats such as bacon, sausages, lunch meats and hot dogs.Choose fish, poultry, or beans instead of red meat (beef, pork, and lamb).If you eat red meat, choose lean cuts and eat smaller portions.Prepare meat, poultry, and fish by baking, broiling, or poaching rather than by frying or charbroiling.3) What are the preventive foods that guard against cancer?In accordance with the most common types of cancers that our country suffers from, the following foods can help:Oral Cancer: A diet rich in green and yellow vegetables and proper oral hygiene has been shown to offer protection against oral cancer.Breast Cancer: Reduction of high calorie foods, increased intake of fruits and vegetables and regular physical activity is preventive.Lung Cancer: Avoid tobacco and stay free from environmental pollutants. Increase intake of vegetables, fruits and beta carotene.Stomach Cancer: Diets high in fruits and vegetables particularly raw vegetables, citrus fruits, and possibly allium vegetables (onions, leeks, garlic etc.), foods with high levels of carotenoid, high vitamin C intake and consumption of green tea helps prevent stomach cancers.4) What foods help in healing cancer and how?Good nutrition is a key to good health. Foods which are rich in Vitamin C, Beta-carotene and Lycopene are known to protect DNA from damages. Research proves that these foods help in healing cancer -Apple: Apple contains quercetin, epicatechin, anthocyanins and triterpenoids which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help to lower the risk of cancer specifically Colorectal cancers. The apple peel is the most nutritious as the majority of Quercetin (80%) is found in it. Other cancers in which apples are known to heal are lungs, breast and stomach.Blueberries: Blueberries have great antioxidant power, due to the presence of many phytochemicals and flavonoids like Anthocyanins, Ellagic acid and Urolithin. These are known to decrease free radical damage to DNA that leads to cancer. They also decrease the growth and stimulate self-destruction of mouth, breast, colon and prostate cancer cells.Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Green Cabbage, Cauliflower, White Turnip, Kale, Green Collard: The Glucosinolates present in them is converted into isothiocyanates and indoles on consumption, which decreases inflammation, one of the risk factors of cancer. Beta-carotene promotes cell communication that helps control abnormal cell growth.Cherries: Both sweet and tart cherries are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. The dark red color comes from anthocyanins, which are antioxidants.Cranberries: They are high on dietary fiber and vitamin C. They're very high in antioxidant power, most of which comes from phytochemicals like anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins and flavonols, ursolic acid, benzoic acid and hydroxycinnamic acid. Proanthocyanidins and ursolic acid decrease growth and increase self-destruction of several types of cancer in cell studies.Grapefruit: An 18th century hybrid of the pummelo and sweet orange. It is grown mainly in the Americas. Its name derives from the fruit's appearance as it grows: grape-like clusters on trees. Grapefruit contains these naringenin and other flavonoids like limonin and other limonoids, beta-carotene and lycopene (pink and red varieties). Foods containing lycopene lower the risk of prostate cancer.Green Tea: Since ancient times, tea has been used as both beverage and medicine. Both black and green teas contain numerous active ingredients, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants. One class of flavonoids called catechins has recently become the focus of widespread study for their anti-cancer potential. Tea is the best source of catechins in the human diet, and green tea contains about three times the quantity of catechins found in black tea. In laboratory studies, green tea has been shown to slow or completely prevent cancer development in colon, liver, breast and prostate cells. Other studies involving green tea have shown similar protective effects in tissues of the lung, skin and digestive tract.Winter Squash/Pumpkins: They contain Alpha and Beta carotene which is converted to Vitamin A inside the body. The yellow pigmented lutein, zeaxanthin helps to filter high energy ultra violet rays that can damage our eye's lens and retina. Lab studies suggest that dietary intake decreases the chances of skin cancer related to exposure from sun. Walnuts: The major actives found in walnut are - Elligtannins, Gamma-tocopherol, Alpha-linolenic acid, phytosterols and Melatonin. Laboratory studies show that consuming walnuts helps in breast cancer, colon tumor and prostate cancer. The studies also show decreased damage to DNA by regular consumption of walnut.5) Do all chemicals, preservatives and additives in foods cause cancer?Additives serve a wide variety of uses. For example, preservatives protect foods against deterioration and prevent growth of fungi and bacteria. Other additives help improve the texture and consistency of foods, keep them flowing freely when poured, or prevent them from drying out. Flavourings restore taste losses or can enhance the flavour or aroma of food. Emulsifiers ensure that oil and water in foods do not separate. Some commonly used preservatives which are doubted to have a relation with cancer are - Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite.Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is a phenolic antioxidant which prevents rancidity of fats and oils in food by protecting against lipid oxidation. High levels of BHA is found to create stomach tumor in laboratory animals. Some other chemicals which are found in canned foods and are known to perpetrate cancer are -Bisphenol A(BPA) can be found in reusable plastic food containers and the lining of food and beverage cans. Research shows that BPA exposure is linked to breast cancer, and has been shown to interfere with chemotherapy treatment for the disease.Phthalates can be found in some plastic food containers and are considered as endocrine disruptors. Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer.Some pesticides and herbicides used on foods we eat have been labeled as human or animal carcinogens.Zeranol: Commonly found in the beef industry processing, it mimics an estrogen like action in the body and has been found carcinogenic in laboratory animals. This chemical is banned by the European Union.Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is used to produce food packaging. It was one of the first chemicals designated as known human carcinogen and has been linked to increased mortality from breast cancer and liver cancer among workers involved in its manufacture.6) A lot is being talked about the Mediterranean diet and its anti-cancer properties. How helpful is the diet? The Mediterranean diet got popular in 1990's for its protective qualities against heart ailments. Later it was found to be effective for other lifestyle disorders and cancer. Instead of accepting all the dishes that are offered in the name of a Mediterranean diet we should look for some basic concepts for which this cuisine is revered. These are - good to control weight gain, bad cholesterol and blood sugar.A typical Mediterranean diet includes - abundant plant foods, fresh fruits, olive oil, cereals, wine, moderate consumption of fish, poultry and low amounts of red meat. The main benefit of this type of a diet is that it reduces inflammatory changes and oxidative stress in the body. By reducing inflammatory changes and delaying the age related changes in body it increases longevity and improves health. At least 7 types of cancers are related to obesity and in that context a Mediterranean diet helps to maintain a healthy glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity. The biological mechanisms for cancer prevention associated with the Mediterranean diet have been related to the favourable effect of a balanced ratio of omega 6 and omega 3, essential fatty acids and high amounts of fibre, antioxidants and polyphenols found in fruits, vegetables, olive oil and wine.7) Five tips that one should follow for a healthy lifestyle.Include fibers in your diet for healthy bowel movements. Regular bowels are important for detoxification.Regular exercise is most important to boost immunity and avoid metabolic disorders like diabetes, hyper cholesterol, obesity, thyroid, hypertension etc. Yoga, pranayama are good for reducing stress, improving flexibility and correcting posture.Nuts provides a good source of energy and other nutrients which are helpful. They help in the reduction and maintenance of weight. Nuts are advisable for controlling bad cholesterol. Nuts like walnut, almonds and pistachios are good for diabetics, hypercholesterolemia.Intake of fruits and vegetables provides necessary antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These help to neutralize the oxidative stress in the body and avoid damages to DNA, ageing.Regular detox through green and herbal teas helps to maintain the balance in the body. Spa and Ayurveda therapies like body massages, shirodhara, chooran svedanam help to relax the body and mind. Lymphatic drainage therapy is also helpful to cleanse channels and get rid of toxins from the lymphatic system.

How Cancer Scare Can Change Your Life

Dr. Sandeep Nayak, Surgical Oncologist
Coping with cancerReceiving a diagnosis of cancer is probably one of the worst things happening to anybody. But, it need not be that scary. You are not alone. When you are diagnosed with cancer you are facing a total new and unknown world. Whether this is your first time with cancer, or you’re experiencing a recurrence, it’s most important to remember that you are not alone. There are many like you who are going through this treatment and successfully so. Take Emotional HelpEveryone deals with a cancer diagnosis differently. You could approach the others suffering from cancer to understand what they go through and prepare yourself for the future steps. It is better to approach a group than an individual as they provide you a broader perspective. There are many help groups that are actively involved in such activities and help new patients to cope with their disease.  You will be vulnerable at this time and it is important to avoid, as far as possible to make any key decisions about your treatment, while you are in the state of shock. Most people report that they could not retain or remember what the doctor told them.Treatment of Cancer.Many don’t know that cancer can be treated and in many cases it can be cured. Your doctor would advise you a combination of surgery, chemotherapy (injections) and radiotherapy. Sometimes other forms of treatment are advised. It is important that you go through all the subjected treatment without skipping any. It may take a few months to complete all of it. Hope for Cure.While cancer may be one of the biggest challenges you will ever face, there are reasons to be hopeful. Treatments for cancer has become more sophisticated and health professionals continue to deepen the understanding of cancer.Cure is possible for many cancers today. And beside medical treatments you have many other resources to draw on as well for your healing, e.g. complimentary medicine, integrative medicine, alternative therapies, yoga. Your Cancer Mentor, friends, family, your spiritual community or and other follow patients and survivors also there for you, to support you throughout your healing journey.

8 Ways to Prevent Breast Cancer

Dr. Devendra Singh, Homeopath
1. Keep Weight in CheckIt’s easy to tune out because it gets said so often, but maintaining a healthy weight is an important goal for everyone. Being overweight can increase the risk of many different cancers, including breast cancer, especially after menopause.2. Be Physically ActiveExercise is as close to a silver bullet for good health as there is, and women who are physically active for at least 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. Regular exercise is also one of the best ways to help keep weight in check.3. Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables – and Avoid Too Much AlcoholA healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer.  Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and keep alcohol at moderate levels or lower (a drink a day or under).  While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of intake can increase the risk of breast cancer.  If you don’t drink, don’t feel you need to start. If you drink moderately, there’s likely no reason to stop. But, if you drink more, you should cut down or quit.4. Don’t SmokeSmokers and non-smokers alike know how unhealthy smoking is.  On top of lowering quality of life and increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and at least 15 cancers – including breast cancer – it also causes smelly breath, bad teeth, and wrinkles. Now that’s motivation to stay smoke-free or work to get smoke-free.5. Breastfeed, If PossibleBreastfeeding for a total of one year or more (combined for all children) lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health benefits for the child.6. Avoid Birth Control Pills, Particularly After Age 35 or If You SmokeBirth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill – particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and uterine cancer – not to mention unwanted pregnancy – so there’s also a lot in its favor. If you’re very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk.7. Avoid Post-Menopausal HormonesPost-menopausal hormones shouldn’t be taken long term to prevent chronic diseases, like osteoporosis and heart disease. Studies show they have a mixed effect on health, increasing the risk of some diseases and lowering the risk of others, and both estrogen-only hormones and estrogen-plus-progestin hormones increase the risk of breast cancer. If women do take post-menopausal hormones, it should be for the shortest time possible. The best person to talk to about the risks and benefits of postmenopausal hormones is your doctor.8. Tamoxifen and Raloxifene for Women at High RiskAlthough not commonly thought of as a “healthy behavior,” taking the prescription drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene can significantly lower the risk of breast cancer in a woman at high risk of the disease.Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention, these powerful drugs can have side effects, so they aren’t right for everyone. If you think you’re at high risk, talk to your doctor to see if tamoxifen or raloxifene may be right for you.