Learn More About Breast Cancer

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

As diagnosis and treatments for breast cancer improve, more and more women are surviving their diagnosis – and surviving longer. Approximately 90 percent of those diagnosed with breast cancer now survive five years after diagnosis.

The findings of AICR's latest report on breast cancer continue to support our recommendation: eating a plant-based diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular physical activity remain the best strategies for reducing breast cancer risk.
Premenopausal Breast
Postmenopausal Breast

Lifestyle and Breast Cancer Risk

Alcohol: Drinking alcohol – in any form – raises 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.

Weight: Carrying excess body fat increases risk for post-menopausal breast cancer.

  • Fat tissue causes 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.

Physical activity: Being active decreases risk for breast cancer.

  • Vigorous activity decreases risk for pre-menopausal breast cancer.
  • Regular physical activity helps regulate hormone levels.
  • Some evidence indicates that people who are physically active (both before and after diagnosis) have a greater chance of surviving breast cancer.

Breastfeeding: If you're able, breastfeeding your baby lowers your risk of breast cancer.

  • 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.

Healthy Diet: A plant-based diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains can help you maintain a healthy weight and therefore lower your risk.

Family History: Inheriting BRCA-1 or other “cancer genes” does increase risk, but these inherited genetic factors are responsible for only about 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers.