NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — One out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life. So many risk factors are completely out of our control, like age, genes, gender, and family history. But we can shift the odds more in our favor with key lifestyle modifications, including these five top strategies to help reduce our risk of breast cancer.

#1: Dial back on alcohol

There’s no way to sugar-coat it: Alcohol is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, and the more you drink, the higher your risk.

Alcohol raises estrogen levels (one of the risk factors for breast cancer), and byproducts of alcohol metabolism can alter DNA in ways that can lead to cancer.

Women who have three drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who don’t drink at all. Experts estimate that the risk of breast cancer goes up another 10% for each additional drink women regularly have each day. [read more here]

One ‘drink’ is defined as 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. But the type of alcohol doesn’t seem to matter; the risk is consistent regardless of the type of alcohol consumed.

#2 & #3: Get moving [and maintain a healthy weight]

Being sedentary can raise our risk of breast cancer. Not only does exercise help with maintaining a healthy weight, it also can lower estrogen levels, which in turn can reduce the risk of breast cancer. And workouts don’t have to be super-intense; even five hours of brisk walking each week is linked to a reduction in risk.

Being overweight is directly linked to a greater risk of breast cancer. Gaining more than 20 pounds after age 18 can translate to nearly a 50 percent increase in risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer.

On the flip side, losing weight (particularly after menopause) may help to reduce your risk. One large study found that women who lost just four to 11 pounds had more than a 20 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women whose weight stayed the same.

#4: Limit added sugar

Even ‘perceived as healthy’ foods – think maple syrup, raw coconut sugar, honey – are considered added sugar. Top medical and wellness organizations recommend that women limit added sugars to not more than about 4-5 teaspoons daily – that’s just less than two tablespoons per day.

#5: Cut back on Processed Carbs

Women with a high-glycemic diet (think white breads, rice, pasta, sugary sweets and soft drinks) have been shown to have an increased risk of breast cancer. All the more reason to nix the white stuff, not to mention the fact that it can make it easier to shed extra pounds.

Cutting back on processed carbs doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor and quality, though. In today’s segment, Chazzie Williams, owner of Healthy Portions Meal Co – and breast cancer survivor – shares 3 simple pasta swaps, along with examples of seemingly-indulgent-yet-low-carb meals.


For more from Molly on nutrition for breast cancer prevention, check out her FUELED podcast here, where she’s joined for a two-part series by Laura Kerns, RD, oncology dietitian with Ochsner Cancer Center.


More on Healthy Portions Meal Co

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FUELED Wellness + Nutrition is powered by Healthy Portions Meal Co. Learn more about the variety of Eat Fit options at Healthy Portions Meal Co, proud sponsor of FUELED Wellness + Nutrition with Molly on WGNO. 


Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian + nutrition journalist in New Orleans, and founder of Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s articles + TV segments at, and sign up for Eat Fit Wellness Bites weekly newsletter, here.

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