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Things you can do to reduce your risk of breast cancer

Breast cancer ribbon

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women, with over 10 percent of women receiving a breast cancer diagnosis during their lifetime. Breast cancer also affects men, although there are far fewer cases. Lifestyle factors play a large part in the development of breast cancer, which means there are several things you can do to reduce your risk.

Weight Control

Carrying excess weight, particularly after menopause, is a risk factor for several types of cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important for women with a family history of breast cancer. Controlling weight and eating a Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, fish and healthy fats, has been linked to a reduced risk of developing the disease.

Hormone Therapy

Combination hormone therapy has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer, particularly when used continually for three years or more. If you are taking hormone therapy to reduce symptoms associated with the menopause, use the lowest dose necessary to treat your symptoms. High-risk women should talk to their doctor to see if there are other ways to control the symptoms.

Physical Activity

Regular physical activity has been linked to a significant reduction in the risk of many different diseases, including cancer. Experts suggest a minimum of 150 minutes exercise every week. Walking, running, swimming, cycling, dancing and yoga are all great ways to boost your overall health. Alternating cardio and strength exercises on different days provides the best workout for your body.

Alcohol and Smoking

Both alcohol and smoking have been linked to breast cancer. Cutting down on smoking and alcohol intake will also reduce the risk of many other types of disease, including heart disease, diabetes and stroke. High-risk women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer are advised to quit smoking and limit alcohol intake to one unit per day.


Early detection is crucial for successful treatment of breast and other types of cancer, so it’s important to attend screenings, particularly if you have a family history of the disease. However, mammograms use small amounts of radiation and have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, so frequent testing is not advisable. Your doctor will be able to advise on the length of time you should wait between mammograms.

Breast cancer affects more than 10 percent of women at some point in their lives. Men can also be affected by the disease, although there are fewer cases.

Lifestyle plays an important role in reducing the risk of breast cancer. Controlling your weight, restricting the use of hormone therapy, increasing physical activity, reducing alcohol intake, quitting smoking and attending screenings can all help to protect against the disease.

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