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A breast cancer specialist shares 2 things she never does to lower her risk of breast cancer

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A breast cancer specialist shared the image with a breast self-assessment and a glass of wine.

Miss Rachel O’Connell (left) never misses a monthly breast self-assessment and doesn’t drink alcohol during the week.Royal Marsden Hospital/Getty Images

  • A breast cancer surgeon shared two things she never does to lower her risk of the disease.

  • Rachel O’Connell never misses a monthly breast self-assessment and doesn’t drink alcohol during the week.

  • She said that genetics and being female, which cannot be changed, put people at greater risk.

A breast cancer surgeon shared two things she avoids to lower her risk of the disease.

Rachel O’Connell, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon at The Royal Marsden Hospital in the UK, told Insider that often factors we cannot change, such as age and being female, put people at greater risk of getting the disease.

However, lifestyle choices can yield “incremental benefits” in reducing breast cancer risk and also improving overall health, she said.

An estimated 264,000 women and 2,400 men are diagnosed annually in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s what O’Connell would never do to reduce her risk of breast cancer:

1. Missing a breast exam

O’Connell said identifying breast cancer early could mean “you’ll need less treatment.”

For this reason, O’Connell, 44, who is too young for the UK screening, which is for people aged between 50 and 71, checks her breasts once a month.

In the US, the CDC recommends that women ages 50 to 74 at “average” risk of breast cancer get a mammogram every two years. This increases the chances of finding it at an early stage “when it can be treated and cured,” according to the National Cancer Institute.

She said she doesn’t have a specific method to examine her breasts, but said it’s important to know them and have a routine.

Signs of breast cancer that O’Connell looks for include: dimpling of the skin, nipple discharge and lumps.

2. Drink alcohol from Sunday to Thursday

O’Connell avoids drinking alcohol Sunday through Thursday because it helps her drink less overall.

“It can be difficult to moderate your alcohol intake and that’s why the only thing I would say about alcohol is to have a strict idea of ​​what you do and don’t do, because you could end up having a glass of wine in the evening, that turns into two glasses of wine at night and then two or three glasses of wine every night, which is probably not a good idea,” O’Connell said.

According to the CDC, research suggests that the more alcohol a woman drinks, the greater her risk of breast cancer.

“I don’t think you shouldn’t drink alcohol, and things should be in moderation,” she said.

O’Connell tries to do ‘everything in moderation’

O’Connell said she takes an “everything in moderation” approach to life, including physical activity and diet, to protect her overall health rather than lower her risk of breast cancer specifically. For example, she tries to stick to a diet that isn’t “too high” in saturated fat by eating red meat once a week.

“Most of the exercise I try to do is swimming with my 4-year-old, and when I go for walks I try to walk in rhythm to get my heart rate up,” O’Connell, who often works long hours in the OR, said.

According to the CDC, being overweight and sedentary increase the risk of breast cancer — and 12 other cancers — in postmenopausal women. However, not everyone with breast cancer has risk factors, and not everyone who is at risk develops the disease.

“I always assure patients that, the vast majority of the time, they haven’t done anything wrong to cause breast cancer,” O’Connell said.

Read the original article on Insider