11 Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

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Risk Factors

There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but the things you do — or don't do — can dramatically reduce the risk. Research across several fields indicates that women (and men) have at least some degree of control over their chances of facing the disease, based on lifestyle choices.

Related: 25 Resources for Breast Cancer Support



An analysis of nearly 50 studies shows a connection between breastfeeding and reduced breast cancer rates, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Women who breastfeed for one year are significantly less likely to get breast cancer than those who do not. After two years, the benefit doubles. Women who breastfed for more than two years over their lifetime get the most benefit.

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Quit Smoking
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Stay Active

Several studies show a definitive link between regular physical activity and lower breast cancer rates. In fact, active women who exercise regularly — particularly after menopause — might enjoy a 10% to 20% lower risk than women who are sedentary. 

Related: 12 Health Goals for Seniors in 2020

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Avoid or Limit Hormone Therapy

The combination of estrogen plus progestin as menopausal hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer, according to the National Women's Health Network. Studies show dramatically lower rates of breast cancer as the therapy is used less.

Avoid Alcohol

Avoid Alcohol

A single alcoholic drink per day increases the risk of breast cancer, according to a report by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund. The report found that the risk increased for women before and after menopause, even when the drink was smaller than a normal serving size.

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Avoid Pollution

There might be a link between pollution and breast cancer, according to a study in the journal Breast Cancer Research. Women in polluted urban areas are more likely to have higher breast density, which makes them more prone to breast cancer.  

Eat Well
Avoid Birth Control Pills in Some Cases
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Avoid Radiation Early in Life

Children and young women exposed to significant radiation early in life, especially in the chest, experience rates of breast cancer three to seven times higher than those who are not, according to Komen. But these exposures are often for Hodgkin's disease treatment, which, Komen points out, is still beneficial even though it increases the risk of breast cancer later in life.

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