5. Breastfeed If You Can
Breastfeeding for a total of one year or more (combined for all children) lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health benefits for the child.
6. Avoid Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks are. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill. The risk of stroke and heart attack is also increased while on the pill – particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use can also have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer and uterine cancer – not to mention unwanted pregnancy – so there’s also a lot in its favor. If you’re very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk.
7. Avoid Post-Menopausal Hormones
Post-menopausal hormones shouldn’t be taken long term to prevent chronic diseases, like osteoporosis and heart disease. Studies show they have a mixed effect on health, increasing the risk of some diseases and lowering the risk of others, and both estrogenonly hormones and estrogen-plus-progestin hormones increase the risk of breast cancer. If women do take post-menopausal hormones, it should be for the shortest time possible. The best person to talk to about the risks and benefits of post-menopausal hormones is your doctor.
8. Tamoxifen and Raloxifene for Women at High Risk
Although not commonly thought of as a “healthy
behavior,” taking the prescription drugs tamoxifen
and raloxifene can significantly lower the risk of
breast cancer in woman at high risk of the disease.
Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention,
these powerful drugs can have side effects, so
they aren’t right for everyone. If you think you’re
at high risk, talk to your doctor to see if tamoxifen or raloxifene may be right for you.