Image used by permission from the American College of Radiology

Strategies for Breast Cancer Risk Reduction

  1. Limit alcohol – the latest studies suggest even a little alcohol can increase risk. Limit your intake to less than 1 drink per day.
  2. Don’t smoke – there is growing evidence of a link between smoking and breast cancer and smoking is bad for your overall health.
  3. Control your weight – there is evidence that obesity increases the risk of breast cancer. Increase your exercise and eat healthy foods (fruits, vegetables and whole grains while decreasing animal proteins) to help control your weight.
  4. Get exercise – current recommendations are 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity per week but any regular exercise is beneficial.
  5. Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce risk of breast cancer.

Here are some additional sources for more information:

Mayo Clinic (…health/…/breast-cancer-prevention/art-20044676)

Fred Hutch (


Family History and Risk

Only 5-10% of breast cancers develop due to an inherited genetic mutation (mostly related to BRCA 1 and 2 genes). Who should see a genetic counselor for testing? You should consider discussing your risk with a genetic counselor if:

  1. You or a family member have been diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause
  2. You have a diagnosis of ovarian cancer
  3. You have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and breast or ovarian cancer at any age
  4. You have a relative who carries a mutation in BRCA1, BRCA2, or other gene linked to hereditary breast cancer.
  5. You are a woman diagnosed with both breast cancer and ovarian cancer or two primary breast cancers
  6. You have three relatives on the same side of the family with breast cancer
  7. A man in your family was diagnosed with breast cancer

More resources about genetic counseling:

Content on this page was prepared by:

Judy Kimelman, MD
ACOG WA State Legislative Chair
Seattle Obstetrics and Gynecology Group

Sarah W Prager, MD, MAS
Associate Professor
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Washington

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