Q: I have a family history of breast cancer. Is there anything I can do to reduce my risk of getting the disease?
A: If you’re concerned about breast cancer, there are steps you can take toward breast cancer prevention. Some risk factors, such as family history, can’t be changed, but the following are lifestyle changes you can take to lower your risks:
–Limit alcohol– limit yourself to one drink or less per day (even small amounts increase your risk)
–Be physically active– physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which in turn helps prevent breast cancer
–Breast feed– the longer you breast feed, the greater the protective effect
–Limit dose/duration of hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms– hormone replacement therapy for more than five years could increase the risk of breast cancer.
–Consider meeting with a genetic counselor – discuss with your Primary Care Provider or surgeon if genetic counseling may be advised. Genetic testing can influence screening recommendations for detecting breast cancer earlier.
Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings based on your history.