Previous Article Next Article

Five Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

Released: 11-Oct-2012 2:50 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Add to Favorites
Contact Information

Available for logged-in reporters only

Newswise — BOSTON—According to the American Cancer Society, about one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. This year, nearly 40,000 women in the United States will die from the disease. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States, after lung cancer. Erica Mayer, MD, M.P.H., is a breast cancer expert at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She says there are at least five simple ways women can reduce their risk of getting the disease:

1-Get a mammogram
It’s recommended women get a mammogram starting at age 40. “Mammography screening does not prevent or cure breast cancer, but it may detect the disease before symptoms occur,” said Dr. Mayer.

2-Eat a healthy diet and keep your weight under control
The American Cancer Society recommends a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fiber. “High-fat diets can lead to being overweight or obese, which is a risk factor for breast cancer,” said Dr. Mayer.

There’s growing evidence that physical activity reduces a woman’s breast cancer risk. According to one small study, women who engaged in 10 to 19 hours of physical activity per week during their reproductive years or after menopause experienced a 30% reduced risk of developing breast cancer. “Women who exercise regularly appear to be less likely to develop breast cancer. Cancer survivors who are active may have less risk of cancer recurrence compared to those who are more sedentary,” said Dr. Mayer.

4-Limit alcohol
Research has shown having too much alcohol can increase your risk of breast cancer. “The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol — including beer, wine or liquor — limit yourself to no more than one half to one drink a day on average,” adds Dr. Mayer.

5-Determine if you have family history of breast cancer
Twenty to 30 percent of people who develop breast cancer have a family history of the disease. About five to ten-percent of women carry a BRCA1 or 2 mutation, the so called “breast cancer genes.” “For women with a family history of breast cancer, genetic testing can offer information about their personal and family risk of developing breast cancer. And if a woman is found to have a gene mutation, options are available to significantly reduce their risk of cancer," said Dr. Mayer.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute. It provides adult cancer care with Brigham and Women’s Hospital as Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and it provides pediatric care with Boston Children’s Hospital as Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center. Dana-Farber is the top ranked cancer center in New England and fifth nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report, and one of the largest recipients among independent hospitals of National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health grant funding.

Follow Dana-Farber on Twitter: @danafarber
or Facebook:


Promote your organization’s experts with Expert Pitch.
Reporters: follow @Expert_Pitch to receive instant updates via Twitter
Looking for a different expert? Reporters can submit an
Expert Query.