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You can reduce your risk of getting breast cancer by having healthy habits. Breast cancer screenings don’t prevent the disease, but can catch it early, when it’s easier to treat.  

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What can I do to keep my breasts healthy?

Some breast cancer risks can’t be controlled, like your age or having a family history of breast cancer. But there are some things you can do to reduce your risk:

  • Stay at a healthy weight, especially as you get older.
  • Make exercising a part of your life.
  • Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and olive oil.
  • Avoid tobacco (including cigarettes and vaping).
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. If you do drink, limiting it to 1 drink a day can help.
  • Avoid chemicals that are linked to cancer. Some chemicals and harmful things around you in your daily life can affect your breasts. This includes some foods, makeup, plastics, and household products. Ask your doctor or nurse for more information.
  • If possible, breastfeed your baby.

It’s also important to talk to your doctor or nurse about breast cancer screenings. Though breast screenings can’t prevent cancer, they can help to find cancer earlier, when it’s easier to treat.

How often should I get a breast cancer screening?

Getting regular breast cancer screenings is one of the most important things you can do to keep your breasts healthy. It’s important to follow your doctor or nurse’s recommendations for how often you should get a breast health check up.

To keep your breasts healthy:

  • Get to know what your breasts feel like and let your doctor or nurse know if you find a lump or notice any other changes. You don’t have to do monthly self-exams. Knowing what’s normal for you, and noticing any changes, is all you need to do.
  • From ages 25 to 39, get a breast exam every 1 to 3 years. How often depends on your personal risk factors. Your nurse or doctor will let you know how often you should get a breast exam.
  • When you’re 40 and older, get a breast exam every year. You can start getting  a mammogram every 1 to 2 years when you turn 40, or you can wait until you turn 50. Your nurse or doctor can help you decide what makes the most sense for you.

Your nurse or doctor may also recommend you get genetic counseling if you’re at higher risk due to your family history, which means meeting with someone who has special training to figure out your risk of getting breast cancer.

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