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Can Breast Cancer Be Prevented?

While certain risk factors are out of women's control, establishing healthy lifestyle habits can potentially reduce breast cancer risk.
While certain risk factors are out of women's control, establishing healthy lifestyle habits can potentially reduce breast cancer risk. Photo Credit: istock.com_thomasandreas

The short answer is not always. However, there are steps women can take to reduce their risk and find cancer early should it develop.

There are certain causes of breast cancer that women can't change, such as advanced age or a family history of the disease. Others, however, are within control:

  • Get moving and eat healthily : Obesity is becoming one of the most common risk factors for cancer, including postmenopausal breast cancer, and may overtake smoking as the leading modifiable cancer cause. Following a healthy diet and incorporating regular physical activity may help.
  • Watch the wine: The risk for breast cancer may increase with only modest alcohol consumption, so limit intake. In addition, limiting alcohol consumption is beneficial to overall health as well.
  • Consider breastfeeding: Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of breast cancer than women who have had children but did not breastfeed.
  • Preventive surgery or medication: Women at increased risk of breast cancer (and ovarian cancer) due to a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes should speak with their doctors about removal of their breasts and ovaries before cancer develops. These women, as well as women with a strong family history of breast cancer, may also be candidates for medication to reduce their breast cancer risk.

To raise the chance of finding breast cancer early, when it is more likely to be cured, most doctors recommend that women begin having an annual mammogram beginning at age 40. Those with a family history of the disease may begin screening sooner, and can consider additional imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI.

The best breast care is provided by a multidisciplinary team at a comprehensive cancer center, like NewYork-Presbyterian. These hospitals are at the forefront of research and clinical trials and offer the latest innovations in care.

NewYork-Presbyterian Cancer Centers provide high-quality, comprehensive cancer care at convenient locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley and provide a comprehensive program of cancer services in state-of-the-art, comfortable environments. Board certified medical oncologists collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists to provide each patient with an individualized plan of care. To find a location, visit

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest and most comprehensive hospitals in the nation, ranked New York’s No. 1 hospital for the 16th consecutive year, and No. 6 in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Affiliated with two academic medical colleges – Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian brings together internationally recognized researchers and clinicians to develop and implement the latest approaches for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is one of only three NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in New York State. NewYork-Presbyterian provides comprehensive cancer care at all of our locations across the New York Metro area, including Westchester County and the Hudson Valley. Learn more at

Daily Voice produced this article as part of a paid Content Partnership with our advertiser, NewYork-Presbyterian

We are highly selective with our Content Partners, and only share stories that we believe are truly valuable to the communities we serve.

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