"The fatter you are, the more female sex hormones are going to be in your body, the more that the breast tissue is being exposed to and the greater the breast cancer risk," says Mark Clemons, M.D., a medical oncologist from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto.
Also, hit the gym. Exercise lowers estrogen in breast tissue. Next, get enough vitamin D.
"We know that lowered vitamin D levels are associated with an increased breast cancer risk, and, indeed, there is some evidence that vitamin D may have an anti-cancer effect in its own right," says Dr. Clemons.
Limiting hormone use after menopause can also lower breast cancer risk.
"It is a disease that is the result of chronic overexposure to sex steroids in your blood," says Dr. Clemons. So, short-term use of hormone replacement therapy may be best.
Finally, Dr. Clemons says high-risk women should consider prevention drugs. Research shows drugs, like tamoxifen, cut risk by nearly 50 percent.
"It's important to realize that reducing your risk of breast cancer is not simply about taking a tablet. It's about lifestyle modification," says Dr. Clemons. And a combination approach can have the biggest impact.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click on: www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.
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