People facing life-threatening illnesses often find that restoring health requires healing the mind and spirit, as well as the body. Many women diagnosed with breast cancer make positive lifestyle changes post-diagnosis, but there is no reason to wait, and so many good reasons to start applying these principles to improve your overall wellbeing now. Because the causes of breast cancer are still undetermined, there are no known ways to prevent it altogether. That being said, there are still many things you can do that may statistically reduce your risk. Maintaining a strong immune system is your best defense. Fostering a healthy lifestyle offers your best offense. Together they may very well lower your risk of breast cancer as well as other diseases. Don’t feel that you have to make huge changes immediately, or you may never begin. Instead, start by incorporating one change into your life. Celebrate when you have mastered this new healthy habit, and then try another one. Before you know it, you will have transformed your lifestyle, one healthy step at a time.


In 2010, the International Agency on Cancer reported that 25 to 30 percent of breast cancer cases could be avoided in Western countries if women were thinner and exercised more, and the American Institute for Cancer Research attributes diet and lifestyle to 30 to 35 percent of ALL cancers. That means each one of us has the ability to make healthy lifestyle choices to manage our risks.

The website offers the following five steps to reduce your risk, all based on current research. Beyond Boobs!® has added our suggestions to each step, starting with this tip: As you embark on the road to better health, find a friend or family member who is also ready to fully embrace great health. You can help each other remain committed, and have fun along the way.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
    Women who are overweight are at greater risk for developing breast cancer, but forget about a “diet.” That implies a short term effort that will deliver short term results. Instead, adopt healthy eating habits that you can sustain over a nice long lifetime.
  • Exercise regularly
    Women who exercise regularly have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Find activities you enjoy doing, grab a friend to sweat with you, and aim for four to seven hours of moderate to intense exercise per week.
  • Limit Alcohol
    Research shows that even one drink a day increases a woman’s risk of certain types of breast cancer slightly, and two to five drinks per day ups risk as much as 50 percent. Sigh. Don’t shoot the messengers. 🙂
  • Eat Nutritious Food
    Nutritious food is yummy! Eat colorful, and this does not mean choosing different colored bags of Doritos®. No, we mean at least five cups of different fruits and veggies a day. If possible, go organic, especially with the Dirty Dozen, Environmental Working Group’s list of the 12 vegetables and fruits containing the highest levels of pesticides. (If pesticides kill bugs, what do they do to us?) In order of “dirtiness”: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines and grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, and kale/collard greens. (Go to www.foodnews.orgto see the “Clean 15”).Keep fat intake to 20 percent of your calories per day. Limit red meat, avoid processed meats containing yucky cancer-causing nitrates, and choose hormone-free meat and dairy products. Eat whole grains instead of white rice and products made with white flour. Beans are good for you. Eat lots. Sugar . . . not so good. Enjoy in small quantities. AND, do you really want to eat anything that says “artificial” on it??? Same thing for processed foods containing lots of unpronounceable ingredients. Finally, it is best to meet nutritional needs through food and not supplements. We are so very sorry, but it’s not possible to make up for a bad diet by popping a multi-vitamin and other supplements.
  • Never Smoke
    This one is a no-brainer, but even if you do smoke, don’t beat yourself up for starting, just know that you have what it takes to stop. The American Cancer Society offers trained counselors available to assist at 1-800-ACS-2345. You will be helping everyone else avoid second-hand smoke too.Just remember that life is meant to be lived, and enjoyed. So learn to balance new, healthy habits with the occasional indulgent splurge.
    Our bodies need adequate rest to repair and rebuild, and an increasing number of studies is showing how critical sleep is for all aspects of health. Some people require more sleep than others, so listen to your body. Most of us should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night.