Heart Health Affects Breast Cancer Risk

Published on February 25, 2016

Heart Health Affects Breast Cancer Risk

By David Gruen, MD, MBA, Director of Women’s Imaging & Co-Director, Breast Center and Helen Pass, MD, Director of Breast Surgery and Co-Director, Breast Center

Raspberries in a heart bowlDid you know that many of the risk factors for heart disease are also risk factors for developing breast cancer? However, the opposite is also true. Things that are good for your heart can help decrease your risk of getting breast cancer. In other words, if it’s good for your heart, it is also good for your breast health.

So while February is Go Red for Women® Month, the healthy heart recommendations of the American Heart Association are equally applicable to everyone who wears pink. Listed below are their top five guidelines to a healthier heart:

1. Stop Smoking: If you smoke, quit. If someone in your house smokes, encourage them to stop. If you need a gentle reminder, here are Stamford Health’s top 10 reasons to stop right now. Plus, our robust lung screening program is one of the most proven in the region.

2. Eat Right: Strive to eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. The Stamford Health Nutrition Counseling Center provides individualized expertise.

3. Manage Diabetes: Not only is heart disease the leading cause of diabetes-related deaths, but recent studies have demonstrated that people with type II diabetes have an increased risk of breast cancer.

4. Aim for a Healthy Weight: Good nutrition, calorie regulation, and physical activity are key. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine if you’re at a healthy weight.

5. Get Moving: Research has shown that getting at least 30 minutes of even modest activity 5 days a week not only decreases your risk of heart disease, but also your risk of getting breast cancer. Furthermore, it can decrease chances of having a recurrence for those with a personal history of breast cancer. Our Sarner Health & Fitness Institute offers comprehensive, medically supervised fitness and lifestyle expertise.

So be heart smart—doing so benefits your breast health, too!