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Certain risk factors of breast cancer you can control but some you can’t. A family history of breast cancer puts you at higher risk, but there’s no way to alter your family tree. Dr. Renée Quarterman, a breast surgeon at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne says genetic mutations also put a patient at higher risk. Other factors which can’t be changed include starting menstruation at a younger than normal age, and starting menopause at a later than normal age.

Fortunately, there are a number of factors you can control. Dr. Quarterman suggests patients avoid high sugar-laden diets and those with too much-processed food. Eat healthy foods and focus on meals filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. She says alcohol and smoking have been linked to breast cancer risks, so limit your drinking and stop smoking. Obesity is a problem, so keep your weight in check and exercise regularly.

Women at higher risk for breast cancer because of family history should have regular breast exams and medical screenings. Some may need to be screened more than once a year, alternating between mammogram, ultrasound, and MRI. She says keeping women at highest risk under close surveillance can help detect cancers that become noticeable between annual screenings.

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