The Prevention of Breast Cancer

Prevention of breast cancer is not possible in 100% of cases. However, its probability of occurrence can be decreased. Fortunately, only minor diet and lifestyle changes are necessary to eliminate risk factors.
The Prevention of Breast Cancer

Last update: 18 May, 2023

Breast cancer is one of the most common neoplastic diseases in women worldwide. Knowledge of this condition and the application of early preventive measures greatly reduce the risk of suffering from it. Learn more about the prevention of breast cancer below.

Currently, there’s a strong genetic and lifestyle influence on patients when it comes to the risk of developing cancer. Some factors such as age, sex, and family history can’t be changed. However, studies confirm that changes in daily habits and ongoing medical care are an easy, effective, safe, and inexpensive way to prevent this condition.

The importance of a healthy diet

Diet plays a fundamental role in people’s health. The proper balance of nutrients contributes to the strengthening of the immune system, as well as the maintenance of the vascular, hormonal, and nervous systems. In general, eating habits and obesity are pillars that must be addressed as early measures in the prevention of breast cancer.

Similarly, research suggests that some foods are capable of initiating, accelerating, and even slowing down the evolution of a malignant tumor. In this sense, it’s vital that we understand which foods we should include in our diet and which ones are capable of increasing the probability of suffering from breast cancer.

Foods you should eat

Breast cancer prevention includes dietary changes
When it comes to cancer prevention, dietary changes continue to be taken lightly. However, consuming certain foods can provide great benefits.

In most cases, diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables are the ones that provide the greatest protective effect. This is due to their high content of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients for the body. Southern and Mediterranean diets are usually the most recommended options in order to follow a healthy eating pattern in patients at risk of cancer.

Plant-based foods offer antioxidant and antiproliferative properties. In addition, some vegetables, such as onion and spinach, have been shown to offer anti-estrogenic effects, which may reduce the risk of tumor growth in women and men.

Foods rich in protein, beta-carotene, flavanols, and folates considerably reduce the risk of suffering from this disease. Therefore, experts recommend consuming between 5 and 9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day. Broccoli, red fruits, and peaches are the most recommended foods when it comes to the prevention of breast cancer.

Similarly, fiber is another nutritional element that should be included in your diet. It contributes to the elimination of waste substances and the detoxification of the body. This can be found in most whole grains and legumes. In addition, you should consume around 33.6 grams per day, something that varies according to age and sex.

Also, you should try to eat the right kind of fat. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are generally beneficial in small amounts. They can be obtained from avocado, olive oil, seeds, and nuts. In addition, soy contains beneficial isoflavones in the control of obesity, heart disease, and tumorous conditions.

Foods that you should exclude from your diet

There are foods and beverages associated with an increased risk of different forms of cancer, including breast cancer. In this sense, alcohol intake is one of the main risk factors for neoplastic conditions. This is attributed to its ability to increase estrogen levels and degenerate cellular DNA. Therefore, the higher the intake, the greater the risk of getting sick.

Similarly, foods with refined sugars acquire great carcinogenic potential, by promoting obesity and increasing the probability of developing tumor processes in the mammary glands. For this reason, you should reduce as much as possible the consumption of sugary drinks, sweets, and processed foods with a high carbohydrate content.

It’s also essential that you avoid the consumption of trans fats contained in fried, pre-prepared, and packaged foods. Limiting the intake of fats of animal origin is one of the main goals in the prevention of breast cancer. At the same time, patients that are at risk of tumors should reduce the consumption of sausages and red meat.

A healthy lifestyle

Currently, there are several measures that you can apply to prevent the development of neoplasms. They’re aimed at making changes in your daily routine and including new healthy habits that improve your quality of life.

Exercise, quitting smoking, breastfeeding, breast self-examination, and diagnostic mammographies are some of the goals of breast cancer prevention.

Physical activity and exercise

Breast cancer prevention includes consistent exercise
Current evidence suggests that regular physical exercise, without the need for high intensity, can help prevent a wide variety of diseases.

Mild to moderately intense physical activity is associated with a lower risk of developing breast cancer processes. Some studies suggest that women who take low-intensity walks 1 to 2 hours per week are up to 18% less likely to develop breast cancer.

So, the physical activity options range from practicing a sport to enrolling in a dance class, jogging in the park, or playing ball with your family. The goal is to enhance cardiovascular pumping and improve your systemic response to demanding situations.

Give up smoking

In general, long-term smoking is associated with a greater deterioration of the cardiovascular system and a lower rate of recovery and healing.

Similarly, it’s linked to a greater risk of developing malignant proliferative diseases. For this reason, it’s vital that you progressively reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke and how often you smoke.

Exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke also has devastating consequences for the body. For this reason, it’s best to apply early measures to reduce exposure to this smoke, such as avoiding going to places where this practice is frequent, distancing yourself physically from people who are smoking, and positioning yourself in a ventilated place when in the company of a smoker.


Hormonal variations play a key role in the origin of breast cancer. In general, early lactation is capable of inhibiting the release of estrogens after conception (by hypothalamic stimuli).

Similarly, sustained breastfeeding tends to slow down the start of a new menstrual cycle, and therefore, exposure to endogenous hormonal changes.

In this sense, breastfeeding is considered a maternal factor for the protection and prevention of breast cancer. In addition, other factors such as late menarche and early menopause reduce the risk of tumorous breast diseases.

Breast self-exam

Regular breast self-evaluation is the most common form of early cancer detection. It doesn’t reduce the probability of suffering from the condition, however, it does favor the approach in the initial stages and determines a better prognosis of the disease.

It’s important to check yourself in front of the mirror between 3 and 5 days after the start of menstruation, using your fingertips to feel for any strange signs. During this period, the breasts are less sensitive and don’t present physiological lumps that could be mistaken for a mass or tumor.

Know your family history

Genetic and hereditary alterations are highly relevant risk factors for breast cancer. So, the probability of suffering from this condition can be doubled if you have a direct relative diagnosed with a breast tumor. In fact, the detection of two relatives with breast cancer increases the risk of developing it in the long term up to 5 times.

In general, mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are responsible for this inherited correlation. They can be identified early by molecular testing.

Diagnostic mammogram

Mammography is an imaging study that’s widely useful in the prevention, identification, and timely management of breast cancer.

Similarly, it allows us to recognize any tumorous disease before it shows obvious physical signs. The American Cancer Society recommends having a mammogram every year starting at age 40 in women with no other risk factors.

Avoid hormone replacement therapies (HRT)

Women who receive hormone replacement therapy as part of the postmenopausal approach are at increased risk of developing breast neoplasms. Currently, there are both combined estrogen and progesterone HRT and estrogen-only HRT, each with a different risk of increasing the chance of developing breast cancer.

Studies estimate that combined HRT increases the likelihood of cancer by up to 75%, even if it’s administered for a short time. However, this risk decreases after 2 to 5 years of stopping treatment. On the other hand, estrogen HRT is capable of promoting breast and ovarian cancer only when used for more than 10 years.

Early changes are the key in the prevention of breast cancer

Breast cancer prevention relies on small changes in people’s eating habits and lifestyles. In this sense, a healthy diet rich in fruits, fibers, proteins, and vegetables must be maintained, which is also free of alcohol, sugars, and trans fats. The aim is to provide your body with the necessary nutrients for immune and systemic strengthening.

At the same time, physical activity, avoiding cigarettes, breast self-examination, and mammographies are essential measures that greatly reduce the risk of suffering from this disease. In the same way, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention if you have any doubts or questions. Health professionals are trained to provide you with timely support and guide you appropriately.

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