Breast Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

8. What factors do scientists look at when studying breast cancer prevention?

When studying ways to prevent breast cancer, scientists look at risk factors and protective factors. Anything that increases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer risk factor. Anything that decreases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer protective factor.

Some risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. For example, both smoking and inheriting certain genes are risk factors for some types of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Regular exercise and a healthy diet may be protective factors for some types of cancer. Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may lower your risk but it does not mean that you will not get cancer.

Different ways to prevent cancer are being studied, including

  • changing lifestyle or eating habits
  • avoiding things known to cause cancer
  • taking medicine to treat a precancerous condition or to keep cancer from starting.