10. Breastfeed your baby
You've probably heard that waiting until your 30s to give birth increases your risk of developing breast cancer. But new research from the University of Southern California shows that you may be able to counteract some of that effect by breastfeeding. The breasts may be particularly susceptible to the effects of cancer-causing substances in the environment, such as secondhand smoke or pesticides. Pregnancy seems to alter the breast cells so they're less vulnerable to these factors, and breastfeeding may change them even more.
11. Kick butts
While breast cancer is not considered a smoking-related disease per se, research has linked smoking in younger women to a greater risk of the disease. According to a study of more than 56,000 women published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the breast cancer-promoting effects of cigarette smoking appear to be strongest in young women who have not yet had children. For example, women who had smoked a pack a day for 10 years before they gave birth for the first time were 78 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never smoked. Need some stop-smoking support? Find a free quit plan, educational materials, and referrals to local resources at smokefree.gov.
12. Prevent it with a pill
For women with a greater-than-average risk of developing breast cancer--as a result of heredity, for example, or a suspicious biopsy--one of two estrogen inhibiting drug regimens may help keep the disease at bay. Researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) revealed a nearly 50 percent reduction in occurrences of the illness in women who were given tamoxifen. Meanwhile, in another a large-scale NCI study, raloxifene, a pill formerly prescribed for osteoporosis, was found to work as well as tamoxifen, but with fewer risky side effects, like blood clots and uterine cancer.
Adapted in part from the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov)