GO for regular checkups, do breast self-exams and get your mammograms on time, and chances are you’ll detect breast cancer early on, when it is most treatable. But what about prevention? Short of radical surgery, are there steps you can take to reduce the risk?
Turns out there are.
True, immutable factors like genetics, a family’s medical baggage and just being born female determine much of the risk of breast cancer. And, as with all cancers, that risk increases with age: a 30-year-old woman’s chances of developing breast cancer over a 10-year period are less than half of 1 percent, or 1 in 234, while a 60-year-old has a 3.5 percent risk, or 1 in 28. (The often-heard “one in eight” figure refers to the lifetime risk that women face.)
But there is now solid evidence that lifestyle can play a role as well. Choices that have an effect include how much alcohol a woman drinks (none is best), the amount of physical activity she gets (the more the better) and whether she takes hormones (the less the better). Doctors also urge women to keep their weight down, as obesity increases the risk of developing breast cancer during the postmenopausal years.