Health: Women Can Control Many Breast Cancer Risk Factors

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Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Preventing breast cancer. A new report says women can make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of getting the disease. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has the details.

Even though she worries about it, the hair dye that stylist Jennifer Zietz uses probably doesn’t increase her risk of breast cancer, according to the new study. But her family history does. Her mother has breast cancer and so did her sister.

“It’s really scary. It’s really scary, I mean I watched my sister pass away and it was awful. She was only 28,” said Jennifer.

Nothing can be done about genetics, but a new Institute of Medicine report says there are things women can do to reduce their chances of developing breast cancer.

Avoid combination estrogen-progestin hormone therapies, stop smoking, limit alcohol use, and unnecessary radiation.

“When you have a little pain in your side and somebody says, ‘Why don’t you get a CT scan?’, those are the kinds of things we can probably make a difference by just avoiding that excess radiation unnecessarily,” said Dr. Ora Gordon, a Genetic Specialist.

But the new study says radiation from cell phones doesn’t appear to increase the risk of breast cancer.

The report, sponsored by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, also says maintaining a healthy weight and exercising can help reduce the risk.

Age is one of the biggest risk factors for developing breast cancer. Family history or genetics only account for about 10 percent of cases.

“I’m going to do everything I can, I’m going to fight for myself, my health and my children,” said Jennifer.

The report says the jury is still out on whether many chemicals of concern, including BPA, pesticides, and ingredients in cosmetics and dietary supplements, may increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer. More research is needed.

For more info on the Institute of Medicine Breast Cancer & Environmental Factor Report, click here.

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