11 Everyday Habits to Help Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Women over 50 are at a higher risk for breast cancer, so it makes sense to take proactive measures where you can.


It is estimated that in 2022, approximately 30% of all new women cancer diagnoses will be breast cancer and menopause seems to have a higher risk.

What to look for

A lump is one of the most common signs and symptoms of breast cancer, but  symptoms vary and can also include swelling, skin dimpling, and breast or nipple pain.

It’s also important to know that these changes also can be signs of less serious conditions, such as an infection or a cyst. Although breast cancer symptoms vary widely, many breast cancers have no obvious symptoms at all so always check with your doctor if you are concerned.

How to help yourself

The good news is that according to the American Cancer Society the 5-year relative survival rate for localised breast cancer, cancer that has not spread outside the breast, is 99 percent. For those whose cancer has spread outside the breast to nearby structures or lymph nodes, the survival rate is 86 percent.

You can take a positive approach to minimising your risk with these simple steps.

1. Balance your diet

Although scientists are doing more research to learn how diet affects the disease your food choices may help cut your odds of having breast cancer.

The Mediterranean Diet is a good basis as it focuses on vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains, which should make up two-thirds of your plate. Reserve the other third for lean protein such as poultry or fish.

2. Limit alcohol

If you’re a woman who has two or three servings a day of wine, beer, or spirits, your risk is 20% higher than one who doesn’t drink at all.

Experts say have no more than one drink a day as that only slightly raises your chances of getting breast cancer. 

3. Don’t smoke

Tobacco use is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, especially in younger women who haven’t gone through menopause. How much you smoke, the age when you started, and how long you continue all affect how likely you are to get the disease.

If you’re a smoker, then ask your doctor about ways to help you quit.

4. Know your tissue type

The makeup of all breasts is different. If yours have less fatty flesh and more milk glands and supportive tissue, they’re called “dense.” That can raise your breast cancer risk and make abnormal cells harder to spot on scans.

Mammograms are one way to measure your tissue type. If you have dense breasts, take other steps to lower your odds for breast cancer and you may need to get screened more often.

 5. Get moving

Regular physical activity can lower your breast cancer risk and it does this by lowering the levels of oestrogen, and growth factors that have been associated with cancer development and progression.

It also helps by preventing high blood levels of insulin, which has been linked to cancer development and progression and by reducing inflammation.

Up to 1 hour of moderate activity daily or 30 minutes of vigorous activity is recommended to cut your cancer risk. ‘Moderate intensity activity’ is anything causing a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate like brisk walking, mowing the lawn, medium-paced swimming or cycling.

6. Watch your weight

When you eat a balanced diet and exercise, that can help you stay at a healthy weight, which also lowers your chance of breast cancer.

Extra pounds, particularly if you put them on as an adult, are linked to a higher risk of the disease and that is especially true for women who have been through menopause.

7. Birth control risks

Hormonal forms of contraception — such as pills and some IUDs — are linked to a slightly higher chance of breast cancer.

If you are at higher risk for breast cancer discuss this with your doctor to discuss other options for instance The copper coil is non hormonal and so does not carry the same risk.

8. What about HRT?

If you already have a breast cancer risk from family history, for example, then you are very unlikely to be given HRT due to its oestrogen content.

Oestrogen only HRT is generally only used vaginally for help with atrophy or dryness. Your risk of breast cancer rises when you take the combination type (oestrogen and progestin).

If on HRT best to go for the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time.

9. Fibre makes a difference 

Women who eat plenty of this had a lower risk of breast cancer, according to several studies.

Scientists aren’t exactly sure how it works to prevent tumours, but they’re doing more research to understand why.

You can find this in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and beans and a fibre rich diet can also help your health in other ways, like lowering your odds of diabetes and heart disease.

10. Get enough vitamin D 

Your body makes its own vitamin D when sunlight hits your skin and when you don’t get enough of it, your risk of breast cancer may go up.

For year round protection look to your diet through foods like salmon, sardines, and fortified foods like fortified plant milks like soy, rice, hemp, oat, or almond milk and orange juice.

If taking a supplement the recommended maximum daily limit of vitamin D from food, drink and supplements is 4000 IU as taking too much can cause calcium build up in the body.

11. Hormone balance   

One of the risk factors for hormonal cancers, including breast cancer, is excess oestrogen that is not balanced by progesterone – known as oestrogen dominance.

Knowing the signs will help you know if your hormones are balanced and if not sure then this article can help.


Helpful information

These are some of the everyday habits that can help reduce your risk but don’t skip mammograms, and a trusted source for help if you are concerned about yourself or a family member is https://www.breastcancer.org/

Given that high levels of unopposed oestrogen can be an increased risk, and if you want more information about how progesterone can help to balance that, then this article can help.