Breast cancer – you can reduce your risk!

Rachel is World Cancer Research Fund’s Health Promotion Manager. She works with health professionals, helping them to feel more confident in raising awareness of cancer prevention amd supporting people to reduce their risk.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK. In fact, one in eight women will develop the disease during their lifetime.

Is breast cancer preventable?

In many cases, yes!

It’s a common misconception that breast cancer risk is primarily down to genes. In fact, only three per cent of breast cancer cases are hereditary, and many of the factors that increase the chances of developing the disease are linked to lifestyle.

Our evidence estimates that 40 per cent of cases in the UK could be prevented if we all maintained a healthier weight, were more physically active and stopped drinking alcohol. That’s about 20,000 fewer cancer cases a year!

Reducing your risk

One of the best things you can do to help protect against breast cancer is to cut down on alcohol – it’s estimated that 22 per cent of breast cancer cases could be prevented by not drinking alcohol.

You should also try to maintain a healthy weight. For most adults, our BMI calculator is a good place to start if you want to find out if you are a healthy weight.

Try to be physically active as well – aim for at least 30 minutes each day. Every type of activity counts, and the more you do the better.

And don’t forget that if you’re a new mother, and able to do so, you should try to breastfeed your baby. Not only will it help reduce your breast cancer risk, it’s also good for your little one.

After breast cancer

There’s also a growing body of evidence that our recommendations may help to prevent people from getting breast cancer again, and even improve survival chances.

With more and more people in the UK living with a diagnosis of breast cancer, preventing recurrence and improving general health in cancer survivors is a priority for our scientific work.


Our newly-updated Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer leaflet is available now to download. Our Women’s Heath Guide also includes information on breast cancer as well as other cancers that affect women. Download them for free from our website.


Rachel Clark | 06 October 2016