In the United States, approximately 9.1 million women have heart disease and about 3.8 million women have breast cancer. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women and over 43,000 women will die of breast cancer this year. There are many factors that you cannot change about your risks such as age and family history but there are some lifestyle changes that can be made to help you lower the risk of both heart disease and breast cancer at the same time.
1. Follow a Healthy Diet
Both the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society recommend the following when it comes to following a healthy diet to prevent breast cancer and heart disease:
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
- Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products
- Avoid processed meat
- Limit added sugar
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being obese is a risk factor for both cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight with a body mass index (BMI) under 30 will help prevent heart disease and breast cancer.
It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. Unfortunately, not many people meet this goal. Research suggests that getting less than the recommended amount of exercise is linked with an increased risk of both heart disease and breast cancer.
4. Avoid Alcohol
Both the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society recommend that if you choose to consume alcohol, it should be done in moderation. This means no more than one drink a day for women. Drinking can lead to an increased risk of liver disease, breast cancer, and a range of cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
5. Get Screened Regularly
Maintaining your health includes getting the recommended screenings at the recommended time intervals. The American Heart Association suggests having a blood pressure screening at every regular health care visit or at least once a year if blood pressure is normal. Cholesterol screening should be done at least every four to six years starting at age 20 for adults who have a normal risk of heart disease. For women at average risk of breast cancer, it is recommended that they should have yearly mammograms starting at the age of 45 years old. Getting screened regularly can detect problems early and allow treatment to start sooner. Talk to your healthcare provider about your risk factors and how often you should be screened.
- How to lower heart disease and breast cancer risk at the same time. www.heart.org. (2023, January 24). Retrieved January 26, 2023