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While there are no specific steps guaranteed to prevent breast cancer, there are several factors under your control that are associated with a lower risk of getting the disease. You might be surprised to know that an everyday healthy lifestyle can also help maintain breast health.
Lifestyle factors contributing to breast health
1. Maintain a healthy weight
2. Be physically active (like walking, classes, strength training, stretching)
3. Eating a colorful diet with lots of fruits and vegetables
4. Limiting alcohol (no more than 1 serving/day: 4 ounces wine, 1.5 ounces spirits, 12 ounces beer)
5. No smoking
6. Avoiding medications with reproductive hormones (like estrogen)
The good news is that it’s never too late to improve your breast health. While maintaining a healthy lifestyle from childhood can lower your risk of breast cancer by as much as 70 percent, choosing a healthy lifestyle at age 50 can lower that risk by as much as 50 percent. That’s significant!
Don’t forget to talk to your doctor about the best tools for early detection, which is crucial to your successful treatment, should anything be diagnosed. And if you know you are at higher risk, it’s important to discuss extra precautions you may need to take.
Tools for early detection include a yearly mammogram (starting as early as age 40), an annual breast exam by your doctor and a monthly breast self-exam.
Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD is the NBC News Health Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.