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How To Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer?

Concerned about developing breast cancer? What can you do to prevent breast cancer?

Although there is no sure way to prevent the occurrence, surely there are several things which can be done to reduce the risk.

Family history is amongst the major risk factor for developing breast cancer, which cannot be changed.

How To Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer?

Studies show that lifestyle changes can be adopted to lower the risk even in those females who are at high risk (1).

Limit Alcohol

More alcohol you drink more you increase the risk of suffering from breast cancer.

The recommended quantity of drink is limited to one drink in a day, as even a small amount of it can increases the risk (2).

Quit Smoking

Smoking is associated with a moderate but significant risk of breast cancer, especially in those females who start smoking at adolescent or peri-menarchal age. The risk doubles if the woman has a family history of the disease (3).

A study shows a long term use of cigarette smoke provides a clear risk of breast cancer and worsened disease (4).

Control Weight

Being overweight increases the risk of suffering from breast cancer especially if obesity occurs after menopause. More fat tissue increases the chance of getting this disease by raising the estrogen levels.

Obesity also increases the risk of death in both premenopausal and postmenopausal patients with breast cancer (5).

If you are overweight consider shedding off those extra pounds not only to reduce the cancer risk but also the risk of various other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Be Physically Active

Physical activity is good for healthy living. It helps maintain weight and reduce the risk of breast cancer.

You can choose from any of the physical activity like walking, exercising, cycling, jogging, or any sport. The activity you choose should help you in maintaining weight.
The American Cancer Society recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise and 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week for everyone to stay fit and healthy and keep weight under control (7).


Breastfeeding plays a major role in the prevention of breast cancer. Longer you breastfeed greater are the protective effects.

A study shows that black women have lower rates of breastfeeding as compared to white women and are also affected by triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive subtype (6).

Limit Hormone Therapy

Hormone therapy is usually given to control night sweats, hot flashes, and other symptoms of menopause. Taking hormone therapy for more than 3- 5 years increase the risk of breast cancer.

Speak with your doctor about other options, if taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms. There are certain non-hormonal therapies and medications which can help manage the symptoms.

Breast cancer risk reduces after 5 years of stopping these medications.

Avoid Exposure To Radiation And Environmental Pollutants

Medical imaging methods such as computed tomography used high doses of radiation which can increase the risk of breast cancer. Reduce the exposure to such tests and get them done only if required.

Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet reduces the risk of breast cancer. A study shows that adherence to the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of breast cancer (8). The Mediterranean diet mainly focuses on plant-based food such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.

Also, people who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats such as olive oil and eat fish instead of meat.

Some studies show the benefits of omega-3 fats found in fishes. It reduces inflammation, which could be a contributing factor in reducing the risk of breast cancer (9).

Contraceptive Pills

A study shows the possibility of an increase in breast cancer risk related to oral contraceptive pills (10). The risk though is very small and decrease after the usage of the pills is stopped.

If you notice any changes in the breast such as a new lump or changes in the skin, consult a doctor.

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 3, 2020

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