13/10/2010 15:27 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Breast-Healthy Lifestyle Is Worth It, Say Experts

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It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month so you've probably read lots of advice about how to lower your risk of developing the disease. But what if you have a family history of breast cancer? Surely all the advice about exercising and keeping your weight down isn't worth much if the risk is already in your genes?

Not according to US experts, who say a breast-healthy lifestyle does help lower your risk - whether or not you have a family history of breast cancer.

Writing in the journal Breast Cancer Research, the experts say it's good news for women who have a close relative who's had breast cancer.

When the disease runs in your family, they say, you could feel your risk is out of control. But the researchers claim a family history of the disease could partly be caused by unhealthy lifestyle behaviours that have been passed down for generations. And - having studied more than 85,000 women - they conclude if you change those behaviours, you could reduce your risk.

According to leading breast surgeon Lester Barr - chairman of the UK-based Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Appeal - the most important steps you can take to reduce your risk of breast cancer include being breast aware, losing some weight (if you need to), being physically active, drinking alcohol sensibly and aiming to stop taking the pill around the age of 30 (and when the time comes for HRT to limit your use as much as possible too).

Have you changed any aspect of your lifestyle to reduce your risk of breast cancer or another illness?

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Breast Cancer: The Facts

Breast cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, with nearly 46,000 new cases being diagnosed each year.

- The majority of breast cancers are diagnosed in women, but approximately 300 men are also diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year.

- Someone is diagnosed with breast cancer every 11 minutes in the UK.

Breast Cancer: The Facts

80 of cases are a result of family history.

Deodorants can cause breast cancer:
- There is no hard evidence to prove or disprove this myth, which has caused unnecessary distress for a lot of women.

Wearing an underwired bra can cause breast cancer:
- There is no evidence to support this.

Having a pierced nipple can cause breast cancer:
- There is no evidence to support this.

Breast Cancer: The Facts

Many risk factors, such as getting older are outside of your control. However there are some lifestyle changes which may help to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer:

- Keeping your weight within healthy limits and eating healthily, especially after the menopause

- Taking regular exercise and keeping active

- Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.

Breast Cancer: The Facts

Breast Cancer Care is there for anyone affected by breast cancer. They bring people together, provide information and support, and campaign for improved standards of care.

- By using their understanding of people's experience of breast cancer and their clinical expertise in everything they do.

Visit Breast Cancer Care or call 0808 800 6000

Breast Cancer: The Facts