3 Ways to Improve Your Odds Against Breast Cancer

Diet and lifestyle changes may reduce the risks

By Heather Hatfield
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD

Breast cancer is the disease most feared by many women, even though both heart disease and lung cancer kill more women in the U.S. One reason may be that it's still not clear exactly what causes breast cancer. So is there anything you can do to help prevent it?

While many of the factors that influence whether you're at risk for breast cancer are outside your control, experts say there are things you can do to improve the odds. Just as diet, weight, and exercise have a big influence on your overall health, they may make a difference in your breast cancer risks as well.

Many studies about diet and health do little more than confuse you. But when it comes to cancer, the advice is consistent: A healthy diet and active lifestyle can help improve your chances.

By following the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic's advice, you will not only lose weight, but you will also boost your health and help prevent chronic diseases.

When choosing foods on your individualized eating plan, pick a rainbow of colorful fruits and vegetables, along with low-fat dairy, whole grains, heart-healthy salmon, and other lean protein. Couple these super-nutritious foods with regular physical activity to wage your own personal war against cancer.

"There are a lot of factors that contribute to breast cancer risk that you have no control over: what age you started your period, what age you had children, what age you began menopause, and family history of breast cancer," says Colleen Doyle, MS, a registered dietitian and nutrition and physical activity director for the American Cancer Society. (Having your first child after age 30 or never having children puts you at higher risk; so do getting your first period before age 12, starting menopause after age 50, or having family members who got the disease.)