Minimizing obesity and alcohol intake can change risk for breast cancer

We can't let COVID get in the way of cancer screenings because those can be life-saving. 

In October, we are reminded that this year alone about 40,000 American women will die from breast cancer. We know the mammogram is the gold standard when it comes to finding breast cancer early. But what can we do in our daily lives to lower our risk? 

Dr. Jessica Bensenhaver, Director of the Breast Cancer Program at the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, says obesity, alcohol consumption and exercise are all factors in controlling our risk for breast cancer. 

"It has to do with circulating estrogen. So obesity is because of the peripheral fat and peripheral fat actually creates estrogen and that estrogen exposure increases your risk," she explains.

When it comes to drinking, alcohol can be risky. The science is a little complicated but it comes down to how your liver metabolizes booze. 

"When it comes to alcohol, it has to do with the liver's metabolism. So, again, it just increases your estrogen risk. If you look at alcohol abuse, one glass or one drink of alcohol daily can increase your risk by 5%. If you have two or more drinks daily that could actually increase up to 20% your risk of breast cancer. So it is significant," she says. "Those are two of the big risk factors that any woman can minimize just by trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle."

And there's recent research that shows regular exercise can lower the risk of breast cancer, even just going for a brisk walk 30 minutes a day makes a difference.

Speaking of walking, this year the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is virtual. The annual event is something we at FOX 2 look forward to every year.

This year, it's online. You can get more information here