And when you do exercise, work to keep your heart rate above its baseline level for a minimum of 20 continuous minutes. Long walks are nice too, but it’s the more vigorous exercise (expect to sweat!) that really helps your heart and cuts your cancer risk.
3. Maintain your body weight, or lose weight if you’re overweight
Research shows that being overweight or obese (especially if you’re past menopause) increases your risk, especially if you put on the weight as an adult. And a study released in March 2008 by researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston showed that obese and overweight women also had lower breast cancer survival rates and a greater chance of more aggressive disease than average-weight or underweight women.
4. Do a monthly breast self-exam
Be sure to get proper instruction from your doctor and have your technique reviewed regularly. You might catch a lump before a mammogram does, and it’s a good idea to follow the changes in your body.
5. Have a mammogram once a year after about 35-40 years of age
Catching a tumor early boosts the chance of survival significantly: The five-year survival rate can be as high as 98% for the earliest-stage localized disease, but hovers around 27% for the distant-stage, or metastatic, disease. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may have to begin your screenings even sooner – check with your doctor or a breast cancer specialist about the prevention strategy that works best for you.