As the exact cause of breast cancer is not known we aren’t able to prevent it at this time and the three main risk factors are things we can do nothing about – age, sex and family history.
The biggest risk for developing breast cancer is being a woman and most breast cancers – around 80% - occur in women over 50. Because breast cancer is unfortunately so common, just having someone in your family that has had cancer does not mean that you are more at risk. However, around 5% of breast cancers are due to an altered gene that is passed on and this is classed as a significant family history. If you are worried about your family history you should talk to your doctor who may refer you to a genetics specialist.
There are things you can do to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer however. Improving your general wellbeing through diet and lifestyle has been shown to lower the risk.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Being obese can increase the risk of cancer so making sure you are of a healthy weight – especially for women who have been through the menopause – can help.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Although you may hear of studies linking diet with cancer there are so many other factors to take into consideration - and there is no single food that can prevent breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and fibre can reduce the risk - as well as lowering your intake of saturated fat.
It is not known exactly how exercising regularly helps reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, but as it keeps your hormone levels healthy and keeps your weight down physical activity is definitely encouraged.
Drinking Less Alcohol
Making sure that you do not exceed the recommended daily amount of alcohol can help reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Although following these guidelines does not prevent you from getting breast cancer the increased level of health and wellbeing will be able to help lower the overall risk.