Breast Health Program

Reduce your risk

Your physician can help you determine your individual risk of developing breast cancer. The most common risk factors include:

  • Being a woman. Only one percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in men.
  • Age. Although cancer can occur at any age, 80 percent of all breast cancers occur in women over 50, with no family history.
  • Family history, e.g., your mother, sister or daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer. You are also at higher risk if your father’s mother, sister or cousins were diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Your history. A history of multiple breast biopsies, particularly those with atypical changes, increases the risk for developing breast cancer.
  • Estrogen exposure, either naturally occurring from excess fat stores in your body or via estrogen supplementation. Estrogen does not cause cancer, but can promote the growth and progression of the disease.
  • Your age at menarche, or first period. The earlier your period began; the higher your risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Children. If you’ve never given birth or you had your first child after age thirty, it increases your risk profile.
  • Having very dense breast tissue.

Lifestyle and dietary modifications

Some risk factors for developing cancer – including obesity (particularly a BMI greater than 30), a diet high in saturated fats and simple carbohydrates, sedentary lifestyle, excess alcohol consumption and tobacco use – are under your control. A few great ways to maintain a healthy, cancer-preventive lifestyle include:

  • Weight reduction to maintain a healthy weight BMI of less than 26.
  • 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five to six days a week.
  • Breastfeeding your children
  • De-stressing in ways that work for you.
  • Eating a colorful balanced diet.
  • Not smoking.
  • Consuming less than three to five units of alcohol per week (4 oz. of red wine is 1.5 units).

Learn more at Comprehensive Breast Care and the National Cancer Institute.

Risk reduction medicines

Women at high risk for breast cancer may be given the option by their breast care specialist to take extra preventive steps. If you are pre-menopausal and at significant risk, your physician may recommend a drug called Tamoxifen, which works by blocking estrogen receptors in the breast and preventing the cells with the potential for cancer from dividing. Tamoxifen has potential side effects you will want to discuss with your physician, because as it acts as a “good guy” in the breast and a “bad guy” in the uterus.

Women who take tamoxifen have a higher risk of endometrial cancer and blood clots.

Post-menopausal women have the option of taking a class of medications called aromatase inhibitors. They work by blocking enzyme conversion from fat to estrogen.


Annual screening 3-D mammograms are the best way to detect and defeat breast cancer early. Clinical breast exam and breast self-exam also play a role, because 20 percent of breast cancers are not detected on screening mammograms. Women with dense breast tissue should be screened via automated whole breast ultrasound in addition to mammography.

Women at extremely high risk, greater than 20% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, should discuss breast MRI screening with their providers. 


We are here to help answer your questions or assist you with scheduling an appointment. Call us today.