3 ways to reduce your risk of breast cancer

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Risky business: Compared to women who do not drink any alcohol, there is a 10 percent to 12 percent higher risk of breast cancer associated with each drink per day. | FILE PHOTO

Some breast cancer risk factors are things you cannot change, such as your age and your family history.

But there are other risk factors that you can change.

“Obesity is a risk factor that is modifiable,” said Dr. Patricia Robinson, assistant professor in the hematology and oncology division in the department of medicine at Loyola University. “Vitamin D deficiency is determined with a simple blood test. Moderate alcohol intake in the post-menopausal population is associated with developing breast cancer. Having control over one’s blood sugar is important.”

The American Cancer Society points to the following three things you can take control of to help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.

1. Control your weight.

Being overweight or obese has been found to increase breast cancer risk, especially after menopause. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight throughout life is recommended to reduce your risk of breast cancer, several other forms of cancer, and heart disease and diabetes.

2. Be active.

Many studies agree that being active decreases a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. On average, highly active women are 25 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than are women who get very little activity. Although vigorous activity like jogging, fast bicycling, swimming, jumping rope, etc. for at least 45 to 60 minutes on most days is recommended, a lower level of activity can also help. One large study found that walking for even 75 to 150 minutes during the entire week reduced breast cancer risk by 18 percent.

3. Avoid alcohol.

Compared to women who do not drink any alcohol, there is a 10 percent to 12 percent higher risk of breast cancer associated with each drink per day. The American Cancer Society recommends that women limit their consumption of alcohol to no more than one drink a day, if they drink at all.

Writer Matthew Schwerha and The American Cancer society contributed to this article.