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There’s a lot of good news about breast cancer. Survival rates are up. Treatment is more tolerable. Diagnoses are down. More targeted therapies are available, and those found with airplaneStage 1 have a relative 5-year survival rate of 100%. That’s all good stuff, unless you are 1 of the 40,000 women who will die this year from the disease.

40,000?? That’s 40,000 too many.

That’s the equivalent of the 3 jumbo jets crash landing every week for a year. But think about it. If 3 commercial airliners went down every week with no survivors, I think people would stop flying. My point here is that when it comes to breast cancers (and many other cancers), people over 40 can do an awful lot for themselves to avoid getting it.

I’ve learned that there are pretty specific ways to really lower your risk. I am sure I’d heard all of these before but of course, no one thinks it’s going to happen to them. And yes, one of my horses has gotten out, but I’m certainly ready to close the barn door now.

So, how do you avoid buying a ticket to Cancer Town? First off, being overweight is one of the factors, and the heavier you are, the greater the risk. It’s pretty sad that 69% of our population is overweight or obese. Which brings us to the next piece of the prevention pie: eating a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant-based foods. Even limiting processed and red meat can make a big difference.

Next up: alcohol. Sorry, but no more than one drink per day for women, and two for men is recommended. Some say its best to avoid it altogether.

And lastly, being physically active is critical. That means getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week, which boils down to 20 minutes per day.

I almost forgot because it kind of goes with saying: stop smoking. Smoking is linked to all kinds of cancer now, but 85% of lung cancer deaths would be avoided if people would just…stop…smoking!

Well, I have to say, I was not a fat, booze drinking, chain-smoking, burger-stuffing couch potato by any means. But if I had thought about it, I think I could have made a number of lifestyle changes to decrease my chances of getting this disease. I would have started long before I was 40. I certainly will now. I hope you will, too.