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Healthy Behaviors


Healthy Living
Fact Sheet


Research Fast Facts: Obesity and Breast Cancer
Fact Sheet

Healthy lifestyle choices

Healthy lifestyle choices may help lower your risk of different types of cancer and other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Although not all these factors lower the risk of breast cancer, they are good for overall health.* Everyone should aim to:

  • Be physically active (get regular exercise).
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. (Survivors who are overweight or obese should limit high-calorie foods and beverages and increase physical activity to help with weight loss.)
  • Eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Choose 100 percent whole grain foods (such as 100 percent whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, millet and quinoa).
  • Limit red meat and processed meat. Choose chicken, fish or beans more often.
  • Limit "bad" fats (saturated and trans fats). These are found in foods such as red meat, fatty deli meats, poultry skin, full fat dairy, fried foods, margarine, donuts and microwave popcorn.
  • Eat "good" fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats). These are found in foods such as olive and canola oil, nuts and natural nut butters, avocado and olives.
  • Limit alcohol intake to less than one drink a day for women and fewer than two drinks a day for men.

Adapted from the American Cancer Society’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines [83].  

* Being physically active, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and to a lesser degree, eating fruits and vegetables may help lower your risk of breast cancer. Other factors are good for your overall health and may help lower the risk of other types of cancer.  

Learn more about body weight and breast cancer risk.

Learn more about exercise (physical activity) and breast cancer risk.   

Browse over 600 healthy recipes. Keep in mind, these recipes are meant to encourage healthy (and delicious) food choices, not necessarily reduce your risk of breast cancer.  


Organic foods

At this time, there is no research to show that organic foods are more nutritional or better for your health than foods that are farmed by conventional methods [83].

Meat and dairy

Organic meat and dairy products come from animals raised without growth hormones or antibiotics. While some people prefer to eat organic meat, chicken and dairy, there is no need to eat these products for cancer prevention. At this time, there is no scientific evidence showing a link between the growth hormones or antibiotics used in conventional animal farming and cancer [83].

Fruits and vegetables

Organic plant foods are grown without the use of conventional pesticides. Conventional fruits and vegetables may have low-levels of pesticide residue. However, the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables outweigh any health risks linked with pesticide residue [83]. Fruits and vegetables (both organic and conventional) are part of a healthy diet. Buying conventional produce (fresh or frozen) and thoroughly washing and rinsing before eating is always a healthy choice [83].  

Learn more about organic foods.  

Learn more about meat and breast cancer risk.  

Learn more about dairy and breast cancer risk.  

Learn more about fruits and vegetables and breast cancer risk.  

Learn more about pesticides and breast cancer risk.

It's never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle

Making healthy lifestyle choices has benefits at any age. Being more active, eating a balanced diet and becoming more aware of your health can be physically and mentally rewarding at any point in life.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website has free tools to help you set weight and activity goals for healthy living. Supertracker is a tool to help you plan, track and analyze your diet and exercise.

Breast cancer screening

Getting regular screening tests (and treatment if diagnosed) lowers the risk of dying from breast cancer. Screening tests can find breast cancer early, when the chances for survival are highest.  

Learn more about breast cancer screening

 Susan G. Komen’s breast self-awareness messages 

1. Know your risk

  • Talk to both sides of your family to learn about your family health history  
  • Talk to your health care provider about your personal risk of breast cancer

2. Get screened

3. Know what is normal for you and see your health care provider if you notice any of these breast changes (see images):

  • Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • New pain in one spot that doesn't go away

4. Make healthy lifestyle choices


Updated 06/26/14


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