4 Things Proven to Cut Your Cancer Risk

by Shaun Dreisbach, Glamour

CN Digital StudioBreast cancer has been linked to a head-swimming number of possible causes, from eating too much soy to wearing underwire bras. "Every minor study gets so much play," says Dr. Love, "that women start to believe all these things can raise or lower their risk. But most aren't backed by solid science." These four are.

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Excercise can reduce your risk by 25 to 30 percent. "About five hours of brisk walking a week is ideal," says Paul Goss, M.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School. "More doesn't give you an added benefit, so you don't have to be a marathon runner." Why does working out help? Experts believe it may reduce stress and inflammation, and boost the way your immune system responds to cancer cells.

Maintaining a healthy weight lowers your odds by up to 250 percent. "Fat cells pick up and store estrogen," explains Avon's Hurlbert, "and since estrogen drives most breast cancers, the fewer fat cells you have, the lower your risk of the disease." If you're carrying extra pounds, even minor weight loss could help. In a recent study, women who shed just 5 percent of their body weight cut their risk 25 to 50 percent. (And it's not necessarily about whether you're eating enough blueberries or spinach either--the impact of specific foods has not yet been definitively linked to reduced risk.)

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Limiting how much you drink drops your risk by 24 to 50 percent. "It's pretty conclusive that drinking alcohol does increase your odds of getting breast cancer," says Hurlbert. The message: "You shouldn't regularly have more than one drink a day. If you have two or three drinks one night, take a couple days off before your next cocktail."

Giving birth before your midthirties and breast-feeding for at least six months afterward lower your risk by as much as 50 percent. If kids aren't in the cards for you by that age, though, don't panic. Focusing on the three other things on this list will still dramatically improve your chances of staying cancer-free.

Click here for the full story: 7 Things No One Ever Tells You About Breast Cancer.

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