According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.  All of us can think of someone whose life has been touched by this disease. With a focus in October on breast cancer awareness, it’s a great opportunity to remind ourselves and our loved ones about taking risks and precautions.

Believe it or not, men can get breast cancer too. However, it is about 100 times more common in women. This means simply being a woman is the main risk factor when it comes to this disease. And as we age, the risk also increases, with the most severe cases being found in women older than 55. This is why it’s so important to get regular checkups, especially if you have close blood relatives who have battled breast cancer.  Studies from the American Cancer Society have found that having a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer can almost double your risk.

While there’s no definitive way to prevent breast cancer, there are some things all women can do to help reduce their risk.  The American Cancer Society offers the following advice:

  • Make some changes to your diet: Studies have found that breast cancer is less prevalent in women who have diets rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Keep an eye on your calorie intake: Weight gain as an adult has been linked with a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • Get regular exercise: The American Cancer Society recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of activity each week.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation: Alcohol, even in low quantities, has also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that women have no more than one alcoholic drink a day.

While efforts towards prevention might be somewhat limited, thankfully, recent developments in screening technologies have made it easier for doctors to catch breast cancer in its early stages. This month, make an appointment with your doctor for a screening and encourage your loved ones to do so as well.