Almost a quarter of a million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. And while early detection and more effective treatments have dramatically reduced the number of those who will die from the disease, researchers are still searching for ways to prevent it altogether.
"Right now there's no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but we know healthy habits significantly decrease your risk," says Debbie Saslow, Ph.D., director of breast and gynecologic cancer at the American Cancer Society.
Here, the latest cutting-edge thinking from researchers.
1. Get enough sleep
Postmenopausal women with breast cancer who routinely sleep less than six hours a night may be twice as likely to have more aggressive breast cancers compared with those who sleep longer hours, a new study has found.
"Cancer is a disease of mistakes in our DNA. Sufficient sleep is responsible for maintaining our circadian rhythm, which regulates our body's natural DNA repair. If that process is frequently disrupted, so is DNA correction," explains lead author Cheryl Thompson, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
If you have difficulty getting your six-plus hours, consider enrolling in an online sleep-improvement program, such as the Cleveland Clinic's Go! to Sleep plan, which combines cognitive behavioral therapy with tools including a daily sleep log and progress charts.