Lifestyle factors

Lifestyle factors

There is no proven method of preventing breast cancer. However, there are some lifestyle factors that have been scientifically shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer. Talk to your family doctor if you have any concerns about the points below. 

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Body weight

  • Keeping a healthy weight is important.
  • If you are post menopausal, breast cancer risk increases with your increasing weight.

Recommendation: Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

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Physical activity

  • Women who do regular exercise have a lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with women who do not exercise.

Recommendation: Be active on most, preferably all, days every week and minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting.

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Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

  • HRT may be prescribed for the relief of troublesome menopausal symptoms. For these women, the benefits to their quality of life by taking HRT may outweigh the risks.
  • Long term (>5 years) use of combined HRT (estrogen and progestogen) increases the risk of breast cancer. Combined HRT may also increase mammographic density which is a risk factor for breast cancer, and can make mammogram interpretation more difficult.
  • The risk of breast cancer decreases within five years of stopping HRT, back to the level of women who have never used HRT.

Recommendation: It is important to discuss the use of HRT with your doctor.

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Alcohol

  • When it comes to cancer risk, there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. Even small amounts of alcohol increase your risk of breast cancer. The more you drink and the more often you drink, the greater your risk.

Recommendation: To reduce your cancer risk, limit how much alcohol you drink or better still, avoid drinking alcohol altogether. If you choose to drink, drink within the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines.

Last Updated: 05/11/2018