There's no way to prevent breast cancer entirely, and factors like age and genetics may be beyond your control. But if you're concerned about your risk of developing breast cancer, you can take steps to minimize your risk.
- Michael Coppa, MD, has more than 25 years of experience supporting women’s health. Here, he offers advice on the best ways for you to reduce your risk of breast cancer.
If you’re not high-risk but still worried
All women have an elevated risk of breast cancer relative to men. If you don't have additional reasons to be especially concerned about breast cancer, taking good care of your overall physical health is the best thing you can do to reduce your risk.
- Don't smoke cigarettes, which have been linked to increased risks for premenopausal women in particular as well as across the board
- Limit your use of hormone therapies, which if continued for more than 3-5 years can elevate your risk of breast cancer
- Maintain a healthy weight, as increased body weight and adult weight gain have both been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer post-menopause
- Stay physically active, with a goal of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week to keep your risk of breast cancer low
- Limit your consumption of alcohol, or stop drinking completely, as even low levels of alcohol intake can elevate your breast cancer risk
Some studies suggest that the best anti-breast cancer diet is one that is rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products. Specific foods aren't likely to make a big difference, but eating a healthy diet with plenty of vitamins and nutrients helps keep you in good whole-body health.
If you’re at increased risk of developing breast cancer
If you know you have an elevated risk of developing breast cancer due to factors like a strong family history or one of the gene mutations known to lead to breast cancer, there are specific steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing cancer.
- Get genetic counseling, including testing for genetic factors like BRCA (the breast cancer gene)
- Learn the early signs of breast cancer, like lumps, and regularly check and examine your breasts
- Get checked at the doctor's office more frequently, making appointments every 6 or 12 months for assessments
- Obtain yearly mammograms or a breast MRI to more actively screen for early signs of breast cancer
Medications and, if you're seriously concerned, even preventive surgery to remove your breasts or ovaries can lower your overall risk of breast cancer.
Developing a confident and open relationship with your doctor may be the most important factor in reducing your risk of breast cancer. Dr. Coppa is available to talk to you about your symptoms, test results, and other cancer-related concerns.
To schedule, an appointment at his Cranston or Smithfield, Rhode Island, offices, call or request an appointment online today.