Some risk factors, such as family history, can’t be changed. However, according to Kelly McMasters, chair of UofL Physicians – Surgery and surgical oncologist, there are lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk:

Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options; you may be able to manage your symptoms with nonhormonal therapies.

Breast-feed. Breast-feeding may play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.

Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.

Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and

Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.

Patients frequently ask if eating a healthy diet can prevent breast cancer. In fact, eating a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables hasn’t consistently shown protection from breast cancer. However, eating a healthy diet may decrease your risk of other types of cancer, as well as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. A healthy diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight — a key factor in breast cancer prevention.

What else can I do? McMasters believes the key to breast cancer prevention is to “be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor right away.” Also, he recommends routine screenings and mammograms, as appropriate.

To make an appointment or refer a patient to McMasters, please call 502-583-8303. To learn more about cancer treatment at UofL Physicians, go online.

Editor’s Note: UofL Today reprints To Your Health articles from the “UofL Physicians-Insider” newsletter. Read the entire October issue (opens as a PDF document) for more information.