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How to reduce your breast cancer risk

By Sola Ogundipe

Breast cancer prevention starts with healthy habits, such as limiting alcohol and staying active. If you’re concerned about developing breast cancer, some risk factors, such as family history, can’t be changed. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk.

File Photo: Breast examination

The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. The general recommendation — based on research on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk — is to limit yourself to less than one drink a day, as even small amounts increase risk.

Evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.

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Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which helps prevent breast cancer. Most healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.

Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.

Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. You might be able to manage your symptoms with nonhormonal therapies and medications.

Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation.  Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.

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