Nutrition & Breast Cancer

Did you know that only 5 – 10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary? The other 90-95% is contributed to diet and lifestyle factors. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to decrease your risk of developing breast cancer!

1 – Maintain a Healthy Weight
The American Cancer Society reports that being overweight increases your risk for breast cancer by 1.5 times and is two times higher in those who are obese. Aim for slow weight-loss (no more than 1-2 pounds per week) by incorporating behavior change strategies. Start with tracking your food, beverage, and overall health habits is a great way to start.

2 – Engage in Physical Activity
Engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce your risk of many chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. On average, people who exercise regularly reduce their breast cancer risk by 12%. There is such a positive relationship between physical activity and cancer prevention because exercise reduces inflammation, improves immune system functions, and lowers the levels of hormones and growth factors that are associated with breast cancer development and progression. The CDC recommends adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week. Try brisk walking, swimming, riding a bike, tennis, exercise classes, or even yard work to get your activity in!

3 – Aim for a More Plant-Based Diet
According to the National Institutes for Health, “A plant-based diet is associated with decreased risk for cancer and other chronic diseases, due in part to reduced chronic inflammation.” A plant-based diet is one that focuses on minimally processed foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The nutrients found in plant-based foods, such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber, have been shown to reduce one’s risk of developing cancer. Some examples of plant-based proteins include: beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, and quinoa. If you are just getting started, try aiming for a plate with: 2/3 (or more) vegetables, fruits whole grains or beans and 1/3 (or less) animal protein.


References: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, NIH National Cancer Institute,

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