What Can I Do to Prevent Breast Cancer?

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The truth of the matter is that I have patients who come into my office every week for a newly diagnosing. I don't understand, I'm a vegetarian, I work out, I run marathons, I've always been healthy, how did this happen to me? And the answer is really it's not their fault, and that has a good side and a bad side.

The good side is there should be no guilt involved with the diagnosis of breast cancer, the way there might be for example with smoking and lung cancer. The bad side is that there's really not that much you can do to control or reduce your risk of getting breast cancer again. And there are two lifestyle factors that we think probably mitigate slightly the risk of breast cancer.

One is obesity, particularly post menopausal obesity, as women go into menopause their estrogen production decreases, but one of the places where estrogen is made is in fat stores, and so women who are postmenopausal who have significant fat stores may be producing more estrogen which then may increase the risk of breast cancer just like hormone replacement therapy might.

The other factor that is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer is heavy alcohol intake. When we say heavy we say one to two drinks a day every day, so anything really habitual. While drinking in moderation should be fine, really if it's a habit one to two drinks a day every day, might be a source of increased risk of breast cancer.