Learn About Breast Cancer


HOW PREVENTABLE IS BREAST CANCER?

AICR estimates that 33 percent of all breast cancer cases in the US could be prevented with simple, everyday changes to what we eat and how much we move.

That means, in the US alone, 81,400 women every year could be spared having to face breast cancer.

Help Us Advance the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Your gift will help fund emerging research and improve the quality of health for cancer patients and survivors.

WHAT ARE BREAST CANCER'S MAJOR RISK FACTORS?

Age: The older you are, the greater your risk for breast cancer. Alcohol: Drinking alcohol – in any form – raises breast cancer risk.
Weight: Carrying excess body fat increases risk for post-menopausal breast cancer. Inactivity: A sedentary lifestyle makes post-menopausal breast cancer more likely.
Family History: Inheriting BRCA-1 or other “cancer genes” does increase risk, but these inherted genetic factors are responsible for only about 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers. Breastfeeding: If you give birth, breastfeeding your baby lowers your risk of both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. Learn more about breastfeeding and cancer

HOW COMMON IS BREAST CANCER?

1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Over 246,660 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year in US women, and nearly 2,400 in US men.

Breast cancer will claim approximately 40,700 American lives this year alone.

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RELATED ARTICLES

33% of breast cancer can be prevented

FOCUS ON THE RISK FACTORS YOU CONTROL

To lower your risk for breast cancer, make everyday choices that will help you stay at or get to your healthy weight.

Find your "healthy weight" using the AICR Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator.

Moving more and eating well will help you achieve your healthy weight. Avoiding alcohol and breastfeeding your babies also help lower your risk.

MOVE MORE

Aim to get your body up and moving for at least 30 minutes every day. So try anything that:

  • Makes your heart beat faster
  • Makes you breathe more deeply
  • You already enjoy doing


Break up hours spent in front of a TV or computer: Stand, stretch, do jumping jacks or go for a short walk every hour or so.

EAT WELL

  • AICR's Foods That Fight CancerTM

    AICR’s new web resource keeps you up-to-date about the latest research on foods that belong at the center of your New American Plate.

Get More:
  • Vegetables
    Choose non-starchy ones like tomatoes, leafy greens, peppers and carrots.
  • Fruit - Go for whole fruits more often, whether fresh or frozen. Limit even 100% fruit juices to 1 cup per day.
  • Whole Grains - Whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal are just a few great choices.
  • Beans - Add pinto, kidney, black, garbanzos and more to soups, salads and stews.
Get Less:
  • Sugary drinks
    Regular sodas, lemonade and sweet tea add calories without filling you up.
  • Red meat like beef, pork and lamb
    Too much red meat raises risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Processed meat
    Processed meats, like hot dogs, cold cuts, bacon and sausage, are often high in calories and increase risk for colorectal and stomach cancers.
A good rule of thumb:
Always fill at least 2/3 of your plate with plant foods, and let animal foods (meat and dairy) take up the rest.

                
IF YOU CHOOSE TO DRINK, LIMIT ALCOHOL

  • Even small amounts of alcohol increase breast cancer risk, so if you do decide to drink, keep to no more than 1 standard drink (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of liquor) per day.
  • Enjoy unsweetened tea, coffee, club soda or sparkling apple juice instead.

BREASTFEED YOUR CHILD

  • It’s best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months and then add other liquids and foods. Learn more about breastfeeding and cancer.

What the Research Shows

FOOD, NUTRITION, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, AND CANCER OF THE BREAST (POSTMENOPAUSE)

STRENGTH OF CURRENT EVIDENCE DECREASES RISK INCREASES RISK
CONVINCING Effect on Risk: Lactation Alcoholic drinks
Body fatness
Adult attained height
PROBABLE Effect on Risk: Physical activity Abdominal fatness
Adult weight gain
Source: AICR/WCRF. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective and Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Breast Cancer, 2010.

FOOD, NUTRITION, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, AND CANCER OF THE BREAST (PREMENOPAUSE)

STRENGTH OF CURRENT EVIDENCE DECREASES RISK INCREASES RISK
CONVINCING Effect on Risk: Lactation Alcoholic drinks
PROBABLE Effect on Risk: Body fatness* Adult attained height
Greater birth weight
Source: AICR/WCRF. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective and Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Breast Cancer, 2010.

What’s the Link?

  • Excess Body Fat Raises Post-Menopausal Breast Cancer Risk
    • Fat tissue casuses inflammation, which can promote cancerous changes in healthy cells. 
    • Being overweight and obese increases blood levels of insulin and related hormones that can encourage the growth of cancer.
  • Activity Lowers Breast Cancer Risk
    • Regular physical activity helps regulate hormone levels.
  • Alcohol Increases Breast Cancer Risk
    • Alcohol influences blood levels of estrogen and other hormones in ways that may make cancer more likely.
    • Alcohol is a recognized carcinogen. It can cause cellular damage that can trigger cancer development.
  • Breastfeeding Lowers Breast Cancer Risk
    • Breast cells undergo physical and horomonal changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding that offer protection against cancer.
    • The shedding of tissue during lactation and the elimination of breast cells at the end of lactation both provide protection.

*Current evidence does suggest that carrying excess body fat may offer some protection against pre-menopausal breast cancer; however, evidence is convincing that body fat is a cause of the much more common post-menopausal form of breast cancer.

About the CUP

The AICR/WCRF Continuous Update Project (CUP) is the world's largest ongoing cancer prevention research project.  It is a living database of the global scientific evidence on diet, physical activity, body weight, and cancer.

For related AICR supported studies visit our research section.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

  • There are now nearly 3 million breast cancer survivors in the US alone.
  • Breast cancer survivors are living longer, healthier lives than ever before.
  • Breast cancer survivorship is the most-studied are in survivor research - but there is much more work to be done.

LOOK FORWARD WITH HOPE

Today, your chances for overcoming breast cancer and returning to an active and full live are the best they've ever been. 

But throughout your treatment, and after its over, you will face many everyday questions. AICR can help.

AICR’s CancerResource: A Program for Those Living with Cancer is a free guide for the newly diagnosed cancer patient.

See below for selections from AICR's CancerResource.

BEFORE TREATMENT

DURING TREATMENT

AFTER TREATMENT

Help Us Advance the Fight Against Breast Cancer

1 in 8 women in the US will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and this year, breast cancer will claim over 40,000 American lives. Your support for AICR's cancer research, survivorship, and education programs will help us get one step closer to preventing breast cancer and saving lives.

Your gift will help fund emerging research on breast cancer and other cancers and improve the quality of health for breast cancer patients and survivors.

Memorial Gift

Make a gift in memory of a loved one. Your gift will help fund research and survivorship programs for those with breast cancer and other cancers for years to come.