Reduce your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your body.

Reducing breast cancer risk

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everywhere we go and everything we read has reminded us of the importance of early detection of and treatment for breast cancer.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. However, here are 2.8 million breast cancer survivors. 

The uncontrollable risks for breast cancer include:

  • Gender – Being a woman, although breast cancer does occur in men
  • Aging – As we get older, the risk for breast cancer increases
  • Having a family history of breast cancer, especially if the relative is your mother, sister or daughter

There are other risks for breast cancer that you can control:

  • Excessive alcohol intake - Research has shown that women who have two to five alcoholic drinks per day have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who drink only one drink a day or not at all.
  • Obesity after menopause - Stay at a healthy weight as you age. Fat stores raise estrogen levels which in turn increase risk for breast cancer. Belly fat can cause higher insulin levels from insulin resistance – another cancer risk factor.
  • Inactivity - Get off the couch, stop sitting and enjoy at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week.

Research continues in these areas where there appears to be no strong link with breast cancer:

  • Specific vitamins and minerals
  • Environmental factors

So, reduce your risk by taking care of your body. There is more cancer prevention information online via the American Cancer Society.


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.