Primary Prevention

Primary prevention consists of interventions that help prevent/protect an individual from developing breast cancer. A growing body of evidence shows the link between healthy lifestyle choices and a lower risk of developing breast cancer.1 According to these studies, excess body weight and physical inactivity deserve special attention, since they account for 25-33 percent of all breast cancer cases2. As a result, being active, eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining a normal body weight are three simple but crucial lifestyle choices.

Reproductive Factors

Reproductive factors also play a role in breast cancer risk. However, they are not easily modified in today’s environment.

  • Having children at a younger age (under 30), having several children, and breast-feeding for long periods of time reduces breast cancer risk.3
  • Having first menstruation prior to 12 years old and/or menopause after age 55 increases the probability of developing breast cancer.1 For each year in delay of menarche the risk decreases by about 15% and for each year of delay of menopause it increases about 3%.2,3
  1. Boyle, P., Levin, B. (eds.). World Health Organisation. International Agency for Research on Cancer. World Cancer Report 2008.
  2. Women’s Health Initiative Study (
  3. Stewart BW, Wild CP, editors (2014). World Cancer Report 2014. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer