Breast cancer is currently the most common form of cancer in women. This is not to say that men don't get breast cancer, but there are far fewer male patient diagnoses each year. Knowing enough to catch breast cancer in its early stages, staying healthy, and getting regular screenings can go a long way toward a good prognosis and treatability.


Eat mostly Plants

A recent Harvard study showed eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. If you must eat meat, stay away from grilled meat, as the carcinogens from open-flame grilling can increase your cancer risk. The best vegetables to eat are leafy greens, carrots, tomatoes, and red peppers. These all contain high levels of carotenoids, antioxidants shown to reduce cancer risk by up to 20%.


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Regular Exercise

Exercise is one of the most effective methods of preventing breast cancer. Active women are far less likely to be diagnosed with any form of cancer. This doesn't mean that you need to sign up for the next marathon or Ironman challenge, undertaking just 30 minutes of walking each day shows fantastic results. Find a type of exercise that suits you, and stick to it. Doctors recommend exercising for at least 30 minutes five times a week to maintain good health.


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Sleep Well

Everyone needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night to remain healthy. Research has shown women who get less than six hours of sleep on an average night have an increased risk of up to 30% of being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives. Those who work night shifts or haphazard shifts also seem to have an increased level of risk, perhaps due to the disruption of the circadian rhythm.


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Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese appears to have a direct correlation to increased risk of breast cancer. This seems to be particularly true for women who have passed menopause. Research suggests that being overweight may impact your hormones which can, in turn, increase risk. Maintaining a healthy BMI and weight by eating a sensible diet and getting regular exercise, and you reduce your risk of breast cancer.


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Stop Smoking

Smoking has been linked to an increased risk for almost every type of cancer. Women who smoke are nearly four times more likely to develop breast cancer than non-smokers. Even those who don't smoke should try to stay away from second-hand smoke. If you do smoke, speak to your doctor about the best options for quitting as soon as possible.


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Avoid or Limit Alcohol

Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol on a regular basis. Heavy drinkers and binge drinkers have an increased risk of developing cancer, in general. Experts recommend women drink no more than one unit of alcohol per day, such as a small glass of wine or a single beer. If you are specifically worried about your cancer risk or have a family history of cancer, it may be better to avoid alcohol altogether.


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Breastfeed your Babies

Breastfeeding your child for the first six months of their lives has been shown to drop breast cancer risk by up to 40%. Those who breastfeed are 10% less likely to die from breast cancer compared to those who do not. This seems to be because women don't menstruate while breastfeeding, which lowers their exposure to estrogen (an excess of which appears to increase risk). Furthermore, having a child after the age of thirty can raise your risk of breast cancer significantly.


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Avoid Hormone Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy is a common treatment for women dealing with severe symptoms of menopause. A recent study by the Women's Initiative shows long-term hormone therapy increases breast cancer risk by up to 24%. Those with a significant risk of breast cancer should avoid all types of hormonal therapy and discuss natural alternatives with their doctors. If you do need to use HRT, try to limit the length of time you receive the therapy.


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Avoid Long-Term Exposure to Radiation

Most people will experience radiation exposure at some point when receiving an x-ray or mammogram, or in countless other situations. Small amounts are unlikely to cause any issues, but long-term exposure will increase your breast cancer risk significantly. If you are worried about unnecessary exposure, seek a second opinion before getting an x-ray done. Those who have had radiation therapy around the chest area have a much higher risk and should avoid additional exposure to radiation unless there is no other alternative.


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Get Screened

The most important part of preventing breast cancer is to check yourself on a regular basis and get screened at least once a year. People at higher risk may choose to have screening done on a more regular basis. New screening techniques that are less invasive are now available, and you can look into alternatives if you are worried about getting a mammogram.


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