Women with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop breast cancer. Some women have an increased risk based on family heritage. There are other risk factors that can be controlled, according to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S., but it can be treated successfully.
A few risks of getting breast cancer include:
• Being a woman is the biggest risk factor for developing breast cancer.
• Age. Just as with many other diseases, the risk of one getting it increases as one gets older.
• Family history. If you’ve had one first-degree female relative (sister, mother, daughter) diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk is doubled. Understanding your history is key to beating breast cancer.
Lifestyle habits that can help reduce your risk of breast cancer include:
• Maintain a healthy weight. According to the National Cancer Institute, being overweight or obese after menopause increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer and can worsen outcomes after a diagnosis. Putting on a lot of extra pounds in the early stages of adulthood can nearly double your chance of developing breast cancer after menopause. But if you’re able to avoid gaining weight, your risk is cut in half.
• Eat less red meat. High consumption of red meat is related to a greater risk of developing breast and other cancers. Aim to consume more plant-based sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and quinoa.
• Eat more fruit and vegetables. Lower intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with breast cancer, particularly estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer. The USDA dietary guidelines recommend consuming two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day.
• Limit alcohol. Even moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Women who have between two and three alcoholic drinks per day have a 20% higher risk of the disease compared to those do that do not drink.
Quit smoking. Several studies have demonstrated a link between smoking and an increased risk of developing breast cancer.