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October 08, 2018

It’s Not All in Your Genes: Five Ways to Lower Your Breast Cancer Risk

Joyce Knestrick, PhD, CRNP, FAANP

Many women spend much of their adult lives staring down breast cancer. The stats are alarming: one in eight will be diagnosed, and every year 260,000 women join the survivor ranks to live a life forever altered by cancer. While genes play an important role in who develops breast cancer, your fate is not entirely out of your hands.

Here are five ways you can actively lower your risk:

  1. Shed extra pounds. Post-menopausal weight gain has been linked to breast cancer.
  2. Get moving. Regular exercise can lower your risk by as much as 20 percent.
  3. Cut back the booze. Three drinks a day increases your risk by 15 percent, and every additional drink adds another 10 percent.
  4. Eat healthily. Diet accounts for 30 to 40 percent of all cancers, so eat the healthy stuff.
  5. Quit smoking. Smoking increases risk, especially in younger, pre-menopausal women, so steer clear of even second-hand smoke.

Just being a woman and getting older are the two biggest risk factors for breast cancer, but there are ways to fight back! Celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month by doing what you can to stay cancer-free.