When diagnosed with cancer, it may be often linked to your family medical history, lifestyle choices, or something in the environment. While you don’t have control over your family history or your environment, healthy lifestyle choices such as a good diet, regular exercise, weight control, and quitting smoking are all within your control.
Understanding the risks and learning what you can do to change them is important. Learn what might increase your risks for the top 3 cancers in women, and some action you can take to reduce those risks.
A woman’s odds of getting breast cancer are 1 in 8. And while there’s no one definitive way to prevent breast cancer, being aware of the following risk factors can help you deal with those that are in your control.
- Being a woman
- Family history
- Your genes
- Dense breast tissue
- A greater than average number of menstrual periods
- No pregnancies or a late first pregnancy
- Birth control pills
- Post-menopausal hormone therapyAvoiding this treatment decreases your risk of breast cancer.
- Being overweight (particularly after menopause)
- Lack of exercise
- Heavy drinking
Colon and Rectal Cancer
Colon and rectal cancers amount to about 8% of all cancer cases and 8% of female cancer deaths. You have a 1 in 24 chance of getting colon or rectal cancer if you’re a woman. The majority of cases are diagnosed in adults ages 50 and over, although they can occur in young adults and teenagers. Besides age, there are several other risk factors, some of which can be controlled:
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer
- Having an inflammatory bowel disease
- Heavy drinking
- A diet high in red or processed meat or low in fruits and vegetables
- Being overweight or obese
- Type 2 diabetes
Early detection is a lifesaver, especially when it comes to colon and rectal cancers. It usually takes 10 to 15 years for abnormal cells to grow in the colon. Having regular colonoscopy screening tests helps you avoid some of the most severe consequences of these cancers.
A woman’s odds of getting uterine cancer are 1 in 36. Uterine cancer or endometrial cancer is found in the lining of the uterus and it’s the most common type of cancer that affects the female reproductive organs. Yes, more common than cervical cancer or ovarian cancers. Unlike cervical cancer, it’s not one of the gynaecological cancers caused by HPV.
Hormonal changes, particularly related to oestrogen, play a significant role in your risk for uterine cancer as it can feed on oestrogen.
Factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing uterine cancer include:
- A high-fat or high-calorie diet
- A family history of uterine cancer or colon cancer
- A personal history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Endometrial hyperplasia, a thickening of the uterine lining
Use of a nonhormonal intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control has been linked to a lower risk of uterine cancer.
How Marie Stopes can help you
Make all the lifestyle improvements you can, most of which involve simple changes to your diet and exercise habits. It’s also advisable to go for a pap smear at your annual women’s wellness check-ups. The procedure can be performed at any Marie Stopes South Africa’s clinics and book an appointment online now.