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A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows about 12 percent of women with breast cancer chose to undergo a double mastectomy in 2011, up from 2 percent in 1998. More than 30 percent of women patients under the age of 40 chose the procedure. The survival rate of a double mastectomy over 10 years was 81 percent in the 200,000 women who were part of the study, compared to 83 percent for patients who chose lumpectomy, a breast-sparing procedure, followed with radiation.There are certain things you can’t change. As you age, your risk of developing breast cancer goes up. You can’t change your genes either, and some genetic profiles put women at greater risk of developing breast cancer.

But to say you can’t do anything is completely untrue, says Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

What you can do:

  • Try to lose some weight. “The obesity problem in the U.S. is fueling the breast cancer problem,” he says. For post-menopausal women, the major source of estrogen is found in fatty tissue, and part of an increased risk for breast cancer among this group may be due to excess estrogen being made in these fatty tissues. “There is significant evidence that losing weight lowers breast cancer risk, and getting to a normal weight does good things for the other body systems,” he says.
  • Regular exercise helps, too, and you don’t have to run a marathon to reap some benefits.Brisk walking of 75 to 150 minutes may be enough. But having a more aggressive exercise routine can lower your risk even more, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • Limiting alcohol intake is a good idea, too. Evidence shows that women who drink two or more alcoholic drinks per day have about one-and-one-half times the risk of breast cancer compared to teetotalers.

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Black Celebrities Who Fought Breast Cancer And Won!  was originally published on