National Breast Cancer Coalition

Truth #7: We don't know how to prevent breast cancer

TRUE. There are factors associated with increasing risk of breast cancer and certain factors that decrease the risk of breast cancer, but we do not know how to prevent breast cancer.

Don't eat red meat. Eat a low fat diet. Don't wear deodorant. Don't sleep in a bra. Women are bombarded constantly on what they can do to prevent breast cancer. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no known way to prevent the disease. Current factors known to contribute to overall breast cancer risk are mostly uncontrollable, including age, personal and family breast cancer history, certain genetic factors, first menstrual period before age 12, menopause after 55, breast density and race. A few factors that can be controlled that have shown increased risk include obesity, alcohol consumption and lack of physical activity.

It is important to keep in mind that most women who have known risk factors do not get breast cancer. Also, most women with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. Except for growing older and certain genetic factors, most women with breast cancer have no clear risk factors. We can't tell any individual woman, "Do this or take this and you won't get breast cancer."

We must find out what causes breast cancer so we can end this disease. Learn more about the science of breast cancer through the Center for NBCC Advocacy Training and Project LEAD® courses.