6 Simple Changes You Can Make to Prevent Breast Cancer

Updated: Jun. 06, 2018

Ask yourself: "Am I doing all I can to prevent breast cancer?" These lifestyle strategies will protect you against one of the deadliest cancers women face.

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Take baby aspirin daily

You may already be doing this for your heart—since regular low-dose aspirin offers amazing health benefits—but now research finds that swallowing baby aspirin at least three times a week reduces your overall risk of breast cancer by 16 percent. This new study, conducted by A City of Hope, called the California’s Teacher’s Study, also suggests that the habit can cut the risk of HER2 negative, or hormone sensitive, breast cancer (the most common type) by 20 percent. “We think it is because women take baby aspirin daily for prevention and not for pain relief, and that gives them a consistent anti-inflammatory benefit that reduces the growth of breast tumors, which are known to be promoted by inflammation,” says Tina Clarke, MD, epidemiologist at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California. The study built upon previous findings that show the importance of adults taking aspirin daily to prevent other cancers like stomach and prostate, and even heart attacks and strokes.

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Cut back on alcohol

While a little might feel okay, heavy drinking leaves you feeling lousy—not to mention bloated and tired. Here’s another reason to watch your intake: Women who downed 14 or more drinks a week were nearly 35 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who stuck to less than five drinks weekly, suggests a new study published in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. You can safely ignore these 15 breast cancer myths.


Give up the hormones

Many think that hormone pills and therapy is a good thing, and some doctors still recommend therapy for women experiencing symptoms of menopause. Women may need to be their own health advocate—here are some other issues where your doctor may not realize what’s best for you—because numerous studies suggest that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be downright dangerous. For example, breastcancer.org says that combination HRT (estrogen and progesterone) increases breast cancer risk by about 75%, even if used for a short time. And estrogen-only HRT has been linked to ovarian cancer; long-term use can up breast cancer risk as well.


Go green

We’re all looking for simple everyday ways to go green, because Mother Nature isn’t the only one that benefits: Less pollution, clearer air, and reduced risk of breast cancer risk as it turns out. Air pollution has already been linked to health problems like lung cancer and birth defects, but a study published in the 2010 Environmental Health Perspectives journal suggests that it may contribute to this deadly disease. Researchers at McGill University and Université de Montréal discovered a strong link between post-menopausal breast cancer and exposure to nitrogen dioxide, aka a greenhouse gas that humans are responsible for emitting into the atmosphere. Learn the 15 things cancer doctors do to prevent cancer.

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Stop sitting

You know better than to smoke, but did you realize that researchers now say our sitting habit is as deadly as a cigarette addiction? Studies show that sitting most of the day—in the car, at work, and at home on the couch—raises your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, not to mention these five other dangers of too much sitting. Researchers from the American Cancer Society found that women who sit for six or more hours a day are 10 percent more likely to develop myeloma, ovarian, and invasive breast cancers than women who sit for less than three hours daily. If you have a desk job—and can’t convert to a standing desk—health experts recommend taking frequent breaks to walk around. Try doing meetings while strolling outdoors, and use phone calls as an excuse to stand. The goal, say researchers, is to spend at least half of your work day on your feet.


Pregnant? Consider breastfeeding

This is a personal decision. However: The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that breastfeeding reduces the risk of both pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer. More research is underway to figure out why this is, but some experts believe breastfeeding helps regulate your hormonal balance after birth. Others argue that women who breastfeed gain protection because they’re more likely to eat healthier, drink less, and give up smoking. Regardless of the reason, it’s clear that breastfeeding improves your odds—plus, think of all the money you’ll save not buying baby formula! These are the 8 silent signs of breast cancer.