Breast Cancer Prevention

Nearly everyone knows someone touched by breast cancer. It’s a scary disease. But there is good news. Treatments are improving, and we are learning more than ever about ways to prevent breast cancer. Breast Cancer Infographic

Some risk factors, such as family history, can't be changed. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk.

These simple steps can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Not every one applies to every woman, but together, they can make a difference.

Be Physically Active

Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.

Keep Weight in Check

Maintaining a healthy weight is an important goal for everyone. Being overweight can increase the risk of many different cancers, including breast cancer, especially after menopause.

Eat Healthy and Avoid Too Much Alcohol

A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and keep alcohol at moderate levels or lower (a drink a day or less). While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of intake can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Don't Smoke

Evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. Not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.

Breastfeed, If Possible

Breastfeeding for a total of one year or more (combined for all children) lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health benefits for the child.

Avoid Exposure to Radiation

Many medical-imaging methods use high doses of radiation. While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between breast cancer and radiation exposure. Have such tests only when absolutely necessary.

Find Out Your Family History

You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a mother or sister who developed breast or ovarian cancer (especially at an early age), or if you have multiple family members (including males) who developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.

Don’t Forget Screening

Studies show that breast cancer screening with mammography saves lives. It doesn’t help prevent cancer, but it can help find cancer early, when it’s most treatable. For most women, regular mammograms can begin at age 40, but specific recommendations vary by age and risk.

For more information about lowering your risk of breast cancer, talk to your doctor.