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How To Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

How To Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer With Exercise

5 ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer

Researchers have observed that postmenopausal women who exercise for at least 300 minutes per week can successfully reduce their body fat compared to those who spent half that time.

Even 2.5 hours of brisk walking per week can reduce breast cancer by as much as 18%!

If you are in a dilemma about how to begin your exercise, here are some handy and effective tips to help you exercise the right way to keep breast cancer at bay:

  • Focus on building an exercise routine. It is okay to begin slowly, but consistency is vital.
  • Aerobic exercises like walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing, etc., are highly beneficial for weight loss, reducing cholesterol levels, increasing endurance and stamina, relieving stress, and ensuring you get good sleep. All of these can help reduce breast cancer risk.
  • Wear a pedometer during the day to keep track of your daily step count and aim to increase the steps every day.
  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs whenever you can.
  • Avoid taking a vehicle if your destination or workplace is nearby. Walking or cycling may be a better option.
  • Love watching TV? Use a stationary bike or treadmill to keep the calories burning while you binge-watch your favorite show.

Medicines For Women At Higher Risk Of Breast Cancer

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends that medicines be offered to some high risk women to reduce the risk of breast cancer. These are:

  • tamoxifen for 5 years if you are pre menopausal
  • anastrozole for 5 years if you are post menopausal
  • raloxifene or tamoxifen for 5 years if you are post menopausal and you cannot take anastrozole

Your specialist doctor might also talk to you about these medicines if you have a moderate risk of breast cancer. All these drugs have side effects and are not suitable for everyone. Speak to your doctor who can tell you whether these are suitable for you.

You do not need to take this medication if you have had surgery to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Weight Exercise And Breast Cancer Risk

Being overweight or obese raises the risk of breast cancer. This is very important after menopause. Excess fat can increase the body’s estrogen levels. It is also the main source of estrogen after menopause. Estrogen can cause the growth of breast cancer cells.

Women who are obese after menopause are 30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. Gaining more than 22 pounds after menopause raises the risk of breast cancer by 18 percent.

To find out if you are overweight, calculate your body mass index . BMI is based on your height and weight. Your BMI should be between 18 and 24.9. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. If your BMI is higher than 30, you are considered obese.

Exercise and weight loss can help women who are overweight or obese lower their risk of breast cancer. Obese women who are able to lose at least 22 pounds after menopause can lower their breast cancer risk by 57 percent.

Talk with your clinician if you have questions about your ideal body weight and your BMI. Always check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise plan or diet to find out what plan is best for you.

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Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Everyone wants to know what they can do to lower their risk of breast cancer. Some of the factors associated with breast cancer being a woman, your age, and your genetics, for example can’t be changed. Other factors being overweight, lack of exercise, smoking cigarettes, and eating unhealthy food can be changed by making choices. By choosing the healthiest lifestyle options possible, you can empower yourself and make sure your breast cancer risk is as low as possible.

The known risk factors for breast cancer are listed below. Click on each link to learn more about the risk factor and ways you can minimize it in your own life. If a factor can’t be changed , you can learn about protective steps you can take that can help keep your risk as low as possible.

What Are The Risk Factors

Preventing Breast Cancer Tips [INFOGRAPHIC]

Risk factors are conditions that may increase the chance of developing breast cancer. It is important to understand that most women will have some of these risk factors. Having one or more risk factors does NOT mean you will be diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition, many women who develop breast cancer have no obvious risk factors. Why some women develop breast cancer while others do not is not fully understood.

Generally recognized risk factors for breast cancer are listed below.

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Breast Cancer: Risk Factors And Prevention

Have questions about breast cancer? Ask here.

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing breast cancer. Use the menu to see other pages.

A risk factor is anything that increases a persons chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

Most breast cancers are sporadic, meaning they develop from damage to a persons genes that occurs by chance after they are born. There is no risk of the person passing this gene on to their children, as the underlying cause of sporadic breast cancer is a combination of internal, or hormonal, exposures lifestyle factors environmental factors and normal physiology, such as DNA replication.

Inherited breast cancers are less common, making up 5% to 10% of cancers. Inherited breast cancer occurs when gene changes, called mutations or alterations, are passed down within a family from parent to child. Many of those mutations are in tumor suppressor genes, such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2. These genes normally keep cells from growing out of control and turning into cancer. But when these cells have a mutation, it can cause them to grow out of control.

Breast Cancer Is The Second Most Common Type Of Cancer In American Women

Women in the United States get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer except skin cancer. Breast cancer is second to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death in American women. Deaths from breast cancer have decreased slightly each year between 2013 and 2018. Breast cancer also occurs in men, but the number of new cases is small.

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Breast Cancer And Your Risk

For readers interested in the PDF version, the document is available for downloading or viewing:

This brochure identifies biological as well as lifestyle factors associated with breast cancer. It offers information and advice to help you better understand and address them. It also identifies common misconceptions about breast cancer and includes helpful tips and useful website addresses to help you stay informed.

It is intended for women who:

  • are 18 years of age or over and
  • do not have breast cancer or any breast problems. You should report any changes in your breasts or concern you might have about your breasts to your doctor.

Tips To Increase Physical Activity

How Can I Reduce My Risk of Breast Cancer?

Being active is good for your health, but it can be hard to find time to exercise.

Do any activity you enjoy that gets you moving .

The tips below may help you become more active. If you can, :

  • Use stairs rather than an elevator.
  • Walk or bike instead of driving.
  • Park farther away from a store.
  • Take your pet for a walk.
  • Exercise at lunch or take a break to stretch.
  • Take a quick walk.
  • Wear a device every day to keep track of your steps.
  • Join a recreational sports team.
  • Use a stationary bicycle or treadmill while watching TV.

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Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables And Limit Alcohol

A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and limit alcohol. While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer. And with other risks of alcohol, not drinking is the overall healthiest choice.

Treatments To Reduce Your Risk

Your level of risk is determined by factors such as your age, your family’s medical history, and the results of genetic tests.

If you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, treatment is available to reduce your risk.

You’ll usually be referred for specialist genetic testing if it’s thought you have an increased risk of breast cancer. Healthcare professionals at these services should discuss treatment options with you.

The 2 main treatments are surgery to remove the breasts or medicine.

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Breast Cancer Risk Factors You Cant Change

While a persons risk of breast cancer can be increased due to certain lifestyle factors, there are factors that people have no control over . Although these may increase your risk of developing breast cancer, having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that you will develop cancer. Having no known risk factors also does not guarantee that you will never develop cancer.

While non-modifiable risk factors cannot be changed, you can still reduce your risk of breast cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices and managing modifiable risk factors. If you are worried about your risk of developing cancer, see your doctor to discuss any concerns. Non-modifiable risk factors include:

Breast Cancer Causes And Risk Factors

Steps Mothers and Daughters Can Take to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Daniel Liu, MD, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, CTCA Chicago.

This page was reviewed on February 10, 2022.

When it comes to breast cancer risk, there are factors you cant change, like your age, race and genes. But there are others you do have control over, such as your exercise level, alcohol consumption and other lifestyle habits.

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Make Sure You Get Fiber

You can find this nutrient in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. Women who eat plenty of these foods had a lower risk of breast cancer, according to several studies. Scientists arenât exactly sure how it works to prevent tumors, but theyâre doing more research to understand why. A fiber-rich diet can also help your health in other ways, like lowering your odds of diabetes and heart disease.

How To Reduce Breast Density To Decrease Breast Cancer Risk

If you are at a higher risk of breast cancer because of dense breasts, family history or use of the birth control pill or hormone replacement therapy, avoid red meat, alcohol and sugar, and minimize saturated fats found in butter and cheese. Adopt a primarily vegan diet. Increase fiber intake, consuming 45 grams daily. Exercise 40-60 minutes daily. Drink rosemary tea daily and use turmeric, 2 Tbsp freshly ground flaxseeds and 2 Tbsp flaxseed oil in your food regularly. Use 3000 IU vitamin D3, 100 mg co-enzyme Q10, 300 mg Indole-3-carbinol, 100 mg B complex, 1500 mg curcumin, 1000 mg N-acetyl cysteine and 300 mg alpha lipoic acid daily.

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Exercises And Breast Cancer Risk

A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2005 reported that physical activity after breast cancer diagnosis might reduce the risk of death due to the disease.

Women who performed physical activity equivalent to walking for 3 to 5 hours per week at an average pace benefited the most.

The study also reported that physical activity after breast cancer diagnosis reduced the chances of recurrence and improved the quality of life in these women.

The primary reason cited for the reduced risk is the low levels of circulating estrogen.

A study conducted in 2015 reported that weight loss by exercise resulted in an increase in lean mass, greater fitness, and a positive effect on the serum sex hormone levels due to greater loss of body fat.

These effects have been associated with a decreased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.

A systematic review analysis was conducted and published in 2019, wherein researchers studied 38 cohort studies published between 1994 and 2017 comprising 68,416 breast cancer cases.

The researchers observed that the risk for breast cancer was significantly lower in people with exposure to physical activity longer than a year but less than five years, followed by those who had a lifetime exposure to physical activity.

What Is Breast Cancer

Five Ways to Reduce your Risk for Breast Cancer

Breast cancer occurs when a normal cell in the breast becomes abnormal and begins to grow out of control. The cancer can grow into a lump in the breast and can eventually spread to other places in the body such as the bones, lungs, liver, or brain. Breast cancer most often affects women, yet can also be diagnosed in men.

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Reducing Your Risk Of Breast Cancer

The most important things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer are to:

  • Check your breasts every month to spot any abnormal changes.
  • Take part in the BreastCheck screening programme. Its free every 2 years for women aged 50 to 69.
  • Talk to your GP about earlier screening if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
  • Keep a healthy weight for your height.
  • Stay active: Women who are physically active have a lower risk of breast cancer than less active women. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 days a week.
  • Limit alcohol: The more you cut down, the more you can reduce your risk. Limit your breast cancer risk by drinking no more than one standard drink a day.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Breastfeed your baby: The longer a woman breastfeeds her baby, the more she reduces her breast cancer risk. Its best to breastfeed your baby for at least the first six months, if possible.

Ways Of Assessing Breast Density

  • Ultrasound
  • Skilled Clinical Breast Exam may not match mammographic exam high and low densities were detected in 84.5% and 15.5% of clinical breast examinations and 59.7% and 40.3% of mammographies, respectively. There was a significant difference between breast tissue densities in breast examination with those in mammography

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What Kinds Of Surgery Can Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer

Two kinds of surgery can be performed to reduce the risk of breast cancer in a woman who has never been diagnosed with breast cancer but is known to be at very high risk of the disease.

A woman can be at very high risk of developing breast cancer if she has a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, a deleterious mutation in the BRCA1 gene or the BRCA2 gene, or a high-penetrancemutation in one of several other genes associated with breast cancer risk, such as TP53 or PTEN.

The most common risk-reducing surgery is bilateral prophylactic mastectomy . Bilateral prophylactic mastectomy may involve complete removal of both breasts, including the nipples , or it may involve removal of as much breast tissue as possible while leaving the nipples intact . Subcutaneous mastectomies preserve the nipple and allow for more natural-looking breasts if a woman chooses to have breast reconstruction surgery afterward. However, total mastectomy provides the greatest breast cancer risk reduction because more breast tissue is removed in this procedure than in a subcutaneous mastectomy .

Even with total mastectomy, not all breast tissue that may be at risk of becoming cancerous in the future can be removed. The chest wall, which is not typically removed during a mastectomy, may contain some breast tissue, and breast tissue can sometimes be found in the armpit, above the collarbone, and as far down as the abdomenâand it is impossible for a surgeon to remove all of this tissue.

What Are The Potential Harms Of Risk

Learn how to lower your risk of breast cancer

As with any other major surgery, bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and bilateral prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy have potential complications or harms, such as bleeding or infection . Also, both surgeries are irreversible.

Bilateral prophylactic mastectomy can also affect a womanâs psychological well-being due to a change in body image and the loss of normal breast functions. Although most women who choose to have this surgery are satisfied with their decision, they can still experience anxiety and concerns about body image . The most common psychological side effects include difficulties with body appearance, with feelings of femininity, and with sexual relationships . Women who undergo total mastectomies lose nipple sensation, which may hinder sexual arousal.

Bilateral prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy causes a sudden drop in estrogen production, which will induce early menopause in a premenopausal woman . Surgical menopause can cause an abrupt onset of menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, and depression, and some of these symptoms can be severe. The long-term effects of surgical menopause include decreased sex drive, vaginal dryness, and decreased bone density.

Women who have severe menopausal symptoms after undergoing bilateral prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy may consider using short-term menopausal hormone therapy after surgery to alleviate these symptoms.

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If You Smoke Stop If You Drink Limit Your Intake

This ones pretty straightforward. For years weve known the health costs that come with smoking. Smoking can weaken the immune system, one of our bodies best defenses against cancer, and can damage or change a cells DNA, which can lead to the growth of a tumor. Quitting isnt always easy. For tips to help you or someone you love quit smoking, visit our website.

Drinking alcohol is linked to breast and several other cancers. Once ingested, your body breaks it down into a chemical that can damage or change a cells DNA, potentially leading to the growth of a tumor. The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that if you drink, you limit your consumption to one drink a day for women and two a day for men.


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