Women can reduce their breast cancer risk by not smoking, limiting their alcohol intake, controlling their weight and exercising regularly, reports Mayo Clinic. Other risk-reducing factors include breastfeeding infants, avoiding birth control medications and avoiding combined hormone therapy after menopause, adds the American Cancer Society. Research on vitamin intake and diet in relation to breast cancer have conflicting results, although a low-fat diet reduces obesity, which is a proven breast cancer risk.
Heavy smoking increases breast cancer risk, especially when women begin smoking before having children, according to the American Cancer Society. Moderate alcohol drinkers have a slight increase in risk, while women who drink two to five drinks per day increase their risk substantially. Post-menopause obesity increases risk because, after menopause, estrogen resides mainly in fat tissue. Even mild exercise, such as brisk walking, reduces breast cancer risk significantly.
Breastfeeding for at least one and a half to two years slightly reduces breast cancer risk, possibly because it decreases the amount of menstrual cycles over a lifetime, explains the American Cancer Society. Although taking oral contraceptives or injections of progesterone for birth control slightly increases breast cancer risk, the risk decreases when women stop using the contraceptives. Post-menopause combined hormone therapy increases breast cancer risk and may also increase the risk of breast cancer death.