Breast Cancer

What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk?

Many factors can influence your breast cancer risk, and most women who develop breast cancer do not have any known risk factors or a history of the disease in their families. However, you can help lower your risk of breast cancer in the following ways—

  • Keep a healthy weight.healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularlyExercise regularly (at least four hours a week).
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Don't drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day.
  • Avoid exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer (carcinigens).
  • Try to reduce your exposure to radiation during medical tests like mammograms, X-rays, CT scans, and PET scans.
  • If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
  • Breastfeed your babies, if possible.

Although breast cancer screeningbreast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Talk to your doctor about which breast cancer screening tests are right for you, and when you should have them.

If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, you may have a higher breast cancer risk. Talk to your doctor about these ways of reducing your risk—

  • Antiestrogens or other medicines that block or decrease estrogen in your body.
  • Surgery to reduce your risk of breast cancer
    • Prophylactic (preventive) mastectomy (removal of breast tissue).
    • Prophylactic (preventive) salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes).

It is important that you know your family history and talk to your doctor about screening and other ways you can lower your risk. For more information about breast cancer prevention, visit Breast Cancer (PDQ): Prevention.

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