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Global Network

Breast Cancer

Learn About 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 be spared having to face breast cancer.

Help Us Advance the Fight Against Breast Cancer

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

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Host a Pink on Purpose day in your workplace.



 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


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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33% of breast cancer can be prevented


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.




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.

It's not about running marathons – it’s about doing more than you’re doing now.


    A Menu for
    Breast Cancer Prevention

  • New American Plate

    Learn about AICR’s simple, visual, award-winning approach to meal planning that helps you lower your cancer risk – and your weight.

  • 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:  Get Less:
  • 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.

  • Sugary drinks

    Regular sodas, lemonade and sweet tea add calories without filling you up.

  • Red meat like beef, pork and lamb

    These foods tend to be calorie-dense (and raise risk for colorectal cancer too).

  • Processed meat

    Processed meat, like hot dogs, cold cuts, bacon and sausage, are often high in calories and also increase risk for colorectal cancer.

  • Fast food

    Lots of calories and sodium packed into each bite.

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.
Previous:« Facts

What the Research Shows


Source: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective and the 2010 Continuous Update Project (CUP): Breast Cancer.
CONVINCING Effect on Risk: Lactation Alcoholic drinks
Body fatness
Adult attained height
PROBABLE Effect on Risk:
Physical activity Abdominal fatness
Adult weight gain


Source: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective and the 2010 Continuous Update Project (CUP): Breast Cancer.
CONVINCING Effect on Risk: Lactation Alcoholic drinks
PROBABLE Effect on Risk:
Body fatness*
Adult attained height
Greater birth weight

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
    • Women metabolize alcohol more slowly than men. Because it stays in a woman's bloodstream longer, it can cause more cellular damage of the kind that can trigger cancer.
    • Alcohol also influences blood levels of estrogen and other hormones in ways that may make cancer more likely.
  • 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.

AICR-Supported Studies
Grant Number Title
317596: Impact of resistance training and protein supplementation on lean muscle mass among childhood cancer survivors
317841: Women�s Interventional Nutrition Study (WINS) long-term survival analysis
317826: A mail- and video-based weight loss trial in breast cancer survivors
318258: Inflammatory Potential of Diet and Risk of Cancer Mortality in Women
204113: Prospective study of diet in youth and adult breast density
318430: Diet composition and weight loss: effect on long term prognosis in breast cancer survivors
316184: Epigenetics of early life exposure to cancer preventive cruciferous vegetables
: Impact of Physical Activity on Tumor Gene Expression in Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer
204321: Vitamin E analog-induced tumor autophagy to enhance tumor immunity
209506: Body Size at Young Ages and Novel Biomarkers of Breast Cancer Risk
209517: Genetic, Dietary and Environmental Influences on Vitamin D Metabolism
209537: Effects of Fish Oil on Lipid Metabolites in Breast Cancer
208633: Diet induced obesity and breast cancer: Protective role of vitamin D
11A003: Lignan or fish oil supplement to reduce breast cancer progression in mice
10A057: Effects of Pomegranate Juice on Hormonal Biomarkers of Breast Cancer Risk
10A053: Telephone vs. In-person Weight Loss Counseling on Weight, Body Fat and Serum Hormones in Breast Cancer Survivors
10A103: Vitamin D, Sunlight, and Breast Cancer
10A093: The Role of Leisure Physical Activity on Breast Density: a Biomarker Related to Breast Cancer
10A020: Green Tea Polyphenols in the Prevention of Breast Cancer Initiation
10A058: Epigenetics of Breast Cancer and Modulation by Bioactive Compounds
10A078: Dietary Energy Density, Body Size and Biomarkers Related to Cancer Risk"
10A050: Anticancer Effects of Mixed Disulfide Conjugates of Allium Thiosulfinates and Cysteine/glutathione
10A035: Predictors of Mammographic Breast Density and Validation of Dietary Intake in a Cohort of Mexican Women
09A064: The Effects of Dietary Selenium Supplementation on Breast Cancer Metastasis
09A153: Metabolic Inflexibility: a Potential Link between Obesity and Postmenopausal Breast Cancer
09A151: The Role of Caffeine in Breast Tumor Metastasis to the Brain
09A007: Interactive Effect of Flaxseed and Trastuzumab in Reducing the Growth of Human Breast Tumors Over Expressing HER2
09A123: Prevention of Tamoxifen Resistance by Green Tea Polyphenols
09A097: Adolescent Diet and Benign Breast Disease
09A122: Epigenetics of Genistein and/or Soy Isoflavone in Breast Cancer Prevention
09A110: Calorie Restriction, Lipid Peroxidation, and Mammary Tumor Prevention
08A049: Obesity, Energy Balance and Breast Cancer: the Role of Insulin-like Growth Factor-1
08A032: Metabolic Profiling of Plants for Health
08A095: Mechanisms of Anti-inflammatory Breast Cancer Action of Reishi Mushroom
08A128: Chemoprevention of HER2/NEU Overexpressing Breast Cancer
MG07A001: Benefit of Walnut Consumption Against Breast and Prostate Cancer
07B019: Chemoprevention of Her2 Positive Breast Cancer by Red Wine Phytochemicals
07A151: Use of the Green Tea Polyphenol, Epigallocatchin-3-gallate, as a Novel Treatment for Trastuzumab Resistant Breast Cancer
07A126: Prevention of Metastatic Breast Cancer Using a Novel Vitamin E Analog
07B032: Effects of LLSO and LLHOSO on the Progression of Breast Cancer
07A108: Green Tea and Epigenetic Regulation of Wnt Signaling
MG07A002: Mechanistic Examination of Walnuts in Prevention of Breast Cancer
07B095: Meat Mutagens and Related Polymorphisms and Risk of Breast Cancer in Women
06A097: Diindolylmethane Improves Effectiveness of Paclitaxel for Breast Cancer Treatment
06A105: A Culturally Specific Dietary Plan to Manage Weight Gain Among African American Breast Cancer Survivors
06A130: Green Tea Inhibition of Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition of Breast Cancer Cells
06A027: Selenium and Osteoblast Involvement in Breast Cancer Metastases in Bone
06A038: Chemopreventive Modulation of the Mammary Stromal Vascular Cell by Conjugated Linoleic Acid
06A123: Inositol Pentakisphosphate, a Novel Bioactive Compound for the Prevention and Treatment of Human Cancer
06A058: EB 1089/vitamin D3 and Radiation in Breast Tumor Cells
06A127: Role of Apple in the Prevention of Cancer
05A071: Fatty Acids, Proteoglycans and Breast Cancer
05B112: Short-Term Leucine Restriction for Complementary Therapy of Breast Cancer
05B037: Dietary Restrictions, Meal Anticipation, and Mammary Tumor Formation
05B047: A Prospective Study of Diet and Breast Cancer in Mexico: A Feasibility Study
05A110: The Obesity-Cancer Link: Do Fatty Acids Promote the Tumorigenic Actions of IGF-1?
05B115: Evaluation of the Antitumor Actions of Vitamin E Compounds In Vitro and In Vivo
05A026: Dietary Lipids and Hormones in Breast Carcinogenesis
05B020: Chemoprevention of her2/neu Overexpressing Breast Cancer
05A035: The Role of the Transcription Factor Rex-1 in Human Breast Cancer
05A008: Effect of a Lifestyle Intervention on Body Weight, Psychological Health Status & Risk Factors Associated with Disease Recurrence in Women Recovering from Breast Cancer Treatment
MG2005: Benefit of Walnut Consumption Against Cancer
05B124: Mechanism of Cancer Chemoprevention by Constituents of Cruciferous Vegetables
05A079: Breast Cancer and eNOS Suppression by Quercetin
04B105: The Underlying Role of Diet in Breast Cancer Risk
04B093: Mechanisms of Retinoid Regulation of Anti-Apoptotic Proteins Survivin and Bcl-2
04B068: Exercise, Energy Restriction, Weight Control and Breast Cancer Prevention
04B062: Role of Green Tea Extracts on Chromatin Remodeling of Telomerase Gene in Cancer Cells
04B018: Examination of the Green Tea Catechin, EGCG, as a Novel Therapy for Bone Metastases
03A069: The Role of the Herb Feverfew in preventing CXCR4-Mediated Metastasis of Breast Cancer
03B043: Design and Feasibility of a Mediterranean Diet
03B091: Cooked Meat, DNA Repair Genes and Breast Cancer Risk, Recurrence and Survival
03A100: Vitamin E and Antiestrogen Responsiveness in Breast Cancer
03B041: Role of Soy and Red Wine Phytoestrogens in Breast Cancer Progression
03B026: Iron, Hemochromatosis (HFE) and Estrogen in Breast Cancer
02A017: Effects of Adenoviral Gene Transfer of C.elegans n-3 Fatty Acid Desaturase on Lipid Profile and Growth of Human Cancer Cells
02A020: Modulation of Fatty Acylation of Src Family Kinases by Dietarty Fat
02A021: Soy Foods, Isoflavones, Insulin-like Growth Factor I, and Breast Cancer Risk
02A068: Enhancement of the Response of Breast Tumor Cells to Fractioned Radiation by Ananlogs of Vitamin D3
02A055: Diet and Exercise Targeting Weight Loss in Public Hospital Breast Cancer Patients
02A112: CLA Modulation of Mammary Stroma in Breast Cancer Prevention
02A111: Prepubertal Soy Diet and Breast Cancer Risk: Role of Estrogen Receptors and Tumor Suppressor Genes
02A072: Iron Increases Breast and Prostate Cancer Cells Invasion
01A067: Determination of Cranberry Constituents with Antiproliferative Activity Against Human Tumor Cell Lines
01B009: Fatty Acids, Proteoglycans and Breast Cancer
01B110: Comparative Hormonal Effects of Diets Containing Soy and Animal Protein
01B108: Modulation of Estrogen Metabolism in Human Mammary Cells by Dietary Chemicals
01A069: The Effect of Anitoxidant and Dietary Restriction on the Development of Spontaneous Tumors in Heterozygous MnSOD Knockout Mice
01B010: Dietary Lipids and Hormones in Breast Carcinogenesis
00A033: The Effect of Phytoestrogens on Normal Breast Tissue in Post menopausal Women: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial
00A104: Role of Dietary Metals in Breast Cancer
00A058: Whole Food Based Changes in Vitamin A Intake During Adolesence and Subsequent Risk for Mammary Carcinogenesis
00A010: Dietary Patterns and Breast Density
00B037: Mechanism of the Antitumor and Anticachectic Effects of n-3 Fatty Acids
00B048: Mammary Cancer Protective Effects of Lactational Exposure to Flaxseed or Its Purified Lignan
00A047: Feverfew, an herbal NF-kappaB inhibitor, in the treatment of breast cancer
00A097: Curcumin-Mediated Inhibition of Chemotherapy-Induced Apoptosis
00A046: Modulation of Fatty Acylation of Src Family Kinases by Dietary Fat
00B076: Is Flavonoid Intake from Food and Supplements a Cofounder in Breast Cancer Recurrence?
00B068: Vitamin D Analogs Enhance the Effectiveness of Fractionated Radiation Therapy in Human Breast Tumor Cells


  • 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.


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 kit of information specifically for the newly diagnosed cancer patient.

See below for selections from AICR's CancerResource. Or read the complete CancerResource flipping book online.




More AICR Materials for Breast Cancer Survivors

In-depth brochures on cancer survivorship; read online or order a free copy.

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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.



Donate Today!

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.

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Last Updated: 03/02/2016
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