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Published on October 21, 2020

5 Steps to Reduce Your Risk for Breast Cancer

5 Steps to Reduce Your Risk for Breast Cancer

It is estimated that more than 300,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. While there are certain risk factors you can’t control, there are steps you can take today to help lower your risk.

Wellness On Demand Video: 5 Steps to Reduce Your Risk for Breast Cancer

Note: Filmed before COVID-19. Cone Health encourages our community to practice social distancing, mask wearing and other infection prevention techniques.

Gustav C. Magrinat, MD, a medical oncologist with Cone Health Cancer Center at Wesley Long Hospital and member of Cone Health Medical Group, shares 5 ways to help reduce your risk for breast cancer.

Step 1: Get A Mammogram Every Year

When you have a mammogram, request tomography (also called 3D), which increases the sensitivity of the screening. Talk to your health care provider about when you should have a mammogram. If your provider has recommended that you get a mammogram, don’t let COVID-19 prevent you from seeking the care you need. See the steps we’re taking to keep you safe.

Step 2: Have a Clinical Breast Exam Yearly

Mammograms can identify many breast cancers, but they may not find everything. It’s important for your primary care physician or your gynecologist to also perform a breast exam yearly. Having both a mammogram and a breast exam covers 95% of breast cancers.

Step 3: Get Enough Exercise

Exercise has many great benefits for your overall health:

  • It helps you feel better.
  • It may help you live longer.
  • It strengthens your bones.
  • It helps keep your heart healthy.

Exercise also helps reduce your risk of both breast cancer and cancer in general. Some experts believe that exercise may lead to a 2-3% reduction in your risk for cancer.

Aim for 45 minutes of exercise 5 times each week.

Step 4: Eat a Healthy Diet

Diet is controversial. There are many diets that promise different health benefits, but there are a few principles of good nutrition we can rely on to help promote overall health:

  • Eat lots of vegetables. The secret is in the vegetables! Get fresh vegetables, cook them whatever way you like, and make them the basis of your diet. Vegetables are filled with a variety if healthy nutrients, so it’s important to eat the whole vegetable rather than taking supplements that separate and isolate their nutritious contents. 
  • Meat and dairy are fine to eat. White meat is recommended over red meat.
  • Reduce carbs. Carbs (short for carbohydrates) can be found in foods like pasta, bread, potatoes, rice and some alcoholic beverages.

Step 5: Spend Some Time Outside Every Day

Do you like to garden? Do you like to take hikes? Aim to spend time outdoors for 2 to 3 hours each week. Quality time spent outdoors can help boost your overall health, can provide a great opportunity for exercise and may help give your emotional and mental health a boost.


Have questions about your risk for breast cancer? Your health care provider can provide guidance tailored to your specific health needs. Need to find a primary care provider, gynecologist or oncologist? Click here. 

>> Learn more about breast cancer care at Cone Health