Basic Facts About Breast Health:
Lifestyle Changes for Breast Cancer Prevention

We are all unique, and staying healthy and preventing illness is different for each person. Eating healthy, exercising and learning stress reducing strategies help most people to feel healthier.

Integrating healthier habits into your life is important, but can be difficult. Some people are more successful if they make small changes over a long time period. Others find that a major overhaul in how they live is more effective. In general, the most sustaining motivation is to feel better.

There are no clear causes of breast cancer and, therefore, no proven way to prevent the disease. This can provoke uncertainty, fear and anger. It is this fear of the unknown and people's passion to find causes that fuel breast cancer advocacy and research.

Even though there is no proof that healthier living can prevent breast cancer, it is believed that decreasing your exposure to things that are harmful and increasing healthier practices may lower the risks. These practices have been shown to help people improve their energy levels, decrease the incidences of other illnesses and enhance their overall sense of well being. There is ongoing research to study the impact of lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise, support and stress management.

Lifestyle change begins with a personal commitment to feel and be healthier. It is often difficult for us to care for ourselves because we usually care for others. The following series of questions may prompt an exploration.

Imagine a process of self-inventory:

  • What are my self-care skills? Do I take care of myself last? What advice would I give me if I were my best friend, sibling or child?
  • How am I eating? Am I dieting, feeling deprived, sneaking junk food, feeling guilty about eating the "wrong" stuff, feeling confused about what are the right and wrong foods to eat? Do I drink enough water?
  • Do I sleep well? Can I sleep well? What interrupts my sleep and rest?
  • Do I smoke cigarettes? Do I drink excessive alcohol?
  • What are the stressors in my life? What can I change? What can I respond to differently?
  • Do I move my body? In which ways of moving do I feel the most pleasure? How, when and where do I fit it in my life?
  • What is making me feel badly? What are the barriers to changing that?
  • What do I love? What moves me and gives my life meaning? Do I make room or time for that which gives my life meaning? What stirs my creative juices?

Whenever life is difficult, it is both harder and more important to care for oneself. Lifestyle change is not a written prescription that never changes. It is a dynamic process. The first and biggest step is to care enough about yourself to pursue what you need. This is self-care.

At the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, we hope to provide you with information and support that will enable you to explore ways of feeling better. You can teach us what works for you. This lesson will enable us to hold your experience and communicate your teachings to other women.

Basic Facts About Breast Health:


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.