How To Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

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Although there’s no way to guarantee you’ll never get breast cancer, researchers have found ways that you can lower your chances.

Limit Your Alcohol

Recent studies have found that the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk for breast cancer. Breast surgeon Thomas Heck, MD, an MD Anderson Cancer Network®-certified physician, says you don’t need to avoid alcohol completely, but it’s best to limit your intake to one drink a day. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or a 1.5 ounce shot of 80-proof liquor.

While no one has studied alcohol’s effect on breast cancer ounce by ounce, says Dr. Heck, “a good rule of thumb is to limit yourself to one drink a day.” Moderation is key, he says. “No one is saying never drink alcohol. Be sensible and logical.”

Focus On Healthy Eating

Studies have shown that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits has been linked to a lower risk of some breast cancers. According to Premier Health dietitian Susan Knapke, RDN, LD, “There is no magic food that prevents breast cancer, but research has found that choosing a meal plan rich in carotenoids (the red/orange food pigment found in foods like tomatoes, bell peppers, melons, carrots, and sweet potatoes) may be linked to a lower risk of some breast cancers.”

Healthy eating also can boost your immune system and help you achieve a healthy weight. Knapke adds, “Following healthy eating habits is important over your lifespan because gaining any weight before or after menopause increases a women’s risk of breast cancer.”

Healthful choices include not only eating more vegetables and fruits, but also increasing intake of other plant foods, such as whole grains and fats (olive and canola oil, avocado, nuts, chia seed, and flax seed.) Lean and unprocessed proteins such as skinless chicken and fish are also recommended more often than high fat and sodium foods such as hot dogs, brats, and sausages.

Portioning foods into sections of your dinner plate is a helpful strategy to increase sources of plant-based foods. Fill half the plate with vegetables and fruit, portion the whole grain item in one corner and the lean protein food in the other corner. This simple method leads to a healthy meal pattern.

More Ways To Reduce Your Risk

To reduce your risk even further, follow these tips from Dr. Heck:

Premier Health’s Cancer Prevention Program can help to determine your personal cancer risk due to family history or genetics. 

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.