Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian women. You can take steps to help lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
What increases my risk of developing breast cancer?
Some factors that may increase your risk of breast cancer include:
- Age (the risk increases over age 50 although younger women may also develop breast cancer)
- Having a family history of breast cancer and certain genes
- Being overweight or obese especially after menopause
- Drinking alcohol
- Being less physically active
- Being exposed to high levels of the hormone estrogen. This may occur if you have never given birth or if you had your first menstrual period at a young age.
How can I decrease my risk of getting breast cancer?
Sometimes cancer occurs for reasons outside our control, but you can take steps to decrease your risk of breast cancer. Some of the steps you can take include:
Read Lowering your Risk of Cancer for tips on reducing your risk of cancer in general. For tips on managing your weight, read 5 Tips on Maintaining Your Weight as You Age. If you have questions about what weight is right for you, talk to a dietitian. Dietitians give you personalized advice based on your history, lifestyle, goals, culture and more.
Are there specific foods that prevent breast cancer
There are no specific foods that have been found to lower the risk of breast cancer. However, women are encouraged to follow the recommendations for general cancer prevention, including:
- Eating more non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, leeks, eggplant, spinach
- Eating a variety of vegetables and fruits of different colours
- Eating whole grain foods regularly
- Eating more plant foods like lentils and beans
Should I take supplements to prevent breast cancer ?
No. Eating a variety of foods is the best way to get vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other cancer fighting compounds. Speak with a dietitian or your health care provider if you are thinking about taking vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements.
What about alcohol and preventing breast cancer?
Avoid alcohol. Drinking any amount of alcohol increases your risk of breast cancer. If you choose to drink, women should have no more than one drink per day. One drink is 350 mL (12 oz) bottle of beer, 150 mL (5 oz) of wine or 45 mL (1.5 oz) of liquor like vodka, whisky, rum or gin.
What about breastfeeding and preventing breast cancer?
Breastfeeding your baby may protect against breast cancer.
Should I get screened for breast cancer?
Follow your health care professional’s advice for knowing your breasts, breast exams and breast cancer screening. Learn more about whether you should be screened.
How can a dietitian help?
A dietitian can support you in making changes to your diet that help lower your risk of breast cancer. For example, a dietitian can make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need and can give you tips on meal planning. They can also help you make sustainable, long-term dietary goals that are right for you. Connect with a dietitian today!
Eating a nutritious diet, maintaining your weight, being physically active and avoiding alcohol can help reduce your risk of breast cancer. For personalized dietary advice, speak to a dietitian.
You may also be interested in:
Alcohol and Nutrition
Staying healthy through menopause and beyond
What Can I Expect When I Go and See a Dietitian?
This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider.
Last Update – June 8, 2022