Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. Many factors contribute to the development of breast cancer. These include risk factors that are genetic, related to aging or being a woman and those related to one’s lifestyle. 

Lifestyle factors include your personal behavior, lifestyle choices such as exercise and diet, and some personal choices. While many risk factors are beyond one’s control, the ones related to lifestyle can certainly be modified to reduce your risk of breast cancer.


Here are some ways to minimize your breast cancer risk: 


1. Limit alcohol intake

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Drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, which goes up with the amount you consume. The risk of breast cancer is almost 20% higher in women who consume alcohol regularly. Limit your alcohol intake if you want breast cancer to stay away from you. 



2. Stop smoking

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Tobacco smoking not only increases the risk of breast cancer but many other cancers too. Studies have shown that the risk of breast cancer is higher in women who are active smokers or who used to smoke earlier as compared to women who have never smoked. 



3. Maintain a healthy weight

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Right weight for your height and age can help you avoid many health problems.  Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing breast cancer by up to 1.5 to 2 times. The risk is higher in women who gained weight as an adult and were overweight before menopause, and in those with excess fat around the waist area. 





4. Stay active

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Exercise is the best pill against most of our ailments. This includes breast cancer. Studies have established that physically active women have a smaller risk of breast cancer compared to women who do not exercise regularly. 

Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day and stay physically active even after your menopause.

 


5. Prefer to have a child before age 30

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Having a child is a very personal decision. If it is possible, plan to have a baby before age 30. Having your first child after age 30 or not having given birth at all is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. 

The relationship between pregnancy and breast cancer is complicated. It is thought to be related to longer exposure to estrogen. As pregnancy reduces the number of menstrual cycles, full-term pregnancy and giving birth before age 30 helps reduce breast cancer risk.



6. Breastfeed your baby

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Breastfeeding until your baby is 1.5 to 2 years old can significantly reduce your breast cancer risk. Besides, it is ideal for the baby with just the right amount of nutrients. Avoid formula milk and breastfeed your baby exclusively for the initial six months and continue until your baby is two years old.  



7. Avoid or limit hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

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Exposure to the hormone estrogen is strongly linked to a greater breast cancer risk. Hormone replacement therapy (estrogen and progesterone) for birth control or for the alleviation of menopausal symptoms increase your risk of developing breast cancer. However, this risk declines with each passing year after you stop hormone therapy and goes back to normal after almost 5 years of discontinuing it. 


Talking to a health counselor can help you understand your risks and find ways to minimize it. Also, you can talk to a doctor online about breast cancer screening.

About the Author

Jyoti Srivastav

Jyoti is a writer and editor with 6 years of experience in scientific and medical writing. She has been the recipient of ICMR's JRF and has worked in public health care sector and medical research. She is presently working as a Managing Editor!


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