Breast Cancer Prevention


Are there things you can do to make sure you don’t get breast cancer?

There are not clear answers to this question; however, one thing is clear. It’s important to follow screening guidelines. Even though screening will not prevent breast cancer, it can lead to early detection which increases the chances of successful treatment.

It’s also important to understand your personal risk, so that you can decide what steps you might be able to take to reduce your risk. Some lifestyle choices that have received the most attention include diet, physical activity, and alcohol consumption.

Breast Cancer Prevention Guidelines

Aside from enjoying a balanced, healthy diet specific guidelines include the following:

Fat Limit fat intake to no more than 30 percent of daily calories consumed. Saturated fats should be limited to 10 percent of less. Reduce animal sources of fat such as meats and high fat dairy foods.

Olive oil Replace saturated fat with olive oil or other monounsaturated fat like canola oil or peanut oil.

Fruits and vegetables Eat five or more servings daily.

Vitamin D Keep normal levels – from sunshine, supplements, or milk and juices fortified with vitamin D.

Folate or folic acid Consume the recommended daily intake of 400 micrograms.

The Benefits of Exercise

Physical activity is another lifestyle choice that can make a difference. In addition to having many health benefits, there is good evidence that regular exercise may lower the risk of breast cancer. A reason for this could be that exercise helps prevent obesity and weight gain – both of which are linked to breast cancer risk.

Reduce Alcohol for Better Breast Health

Another lifestyle choice that is linked to a higher risk is alcohol. Having two drinks a day of beer, wine, or liquor increases breast cancer risk by about 20 percent. The risk goes up with each drink consumed in a day. How much counts as one drink? 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled liquor equals one drink.

Learn More About Breast Cancer

Learn more about prevention, diagnosis and treatment from the Cancer Institute’s breast cancer program. Our nationally accredited breast program provides coordinated, state-of-the-art care to breast cancer patients.