What can I do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?

Dr Apffelstaedt: The easiest way to lower one’s risk of developing breast cancer is to live a healthier lifestyle. To reduce your risk:

  • Watch your diet and exercise regularly: obesity increases one’s breast cancer risk by up to 70% in pre-menopausal women(American Association for Cancer Research, 2012).[6] This is a far higher than the risk associated with having an IUD for over 10 years! It is of utmost importance to lead a healthy and active lifestyle and do your best to stay within a healthy weight range.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake: habitual drinking can also increase your risk. Alcoholics, in particular, have a far higher risk of developing breast cancer than non-drinkers (National Cancer Institute)[7].
  • Screen your breasts on a regular basis: check for lumps by hand if you are under 40 and see your mammographer if you are over 40.

Only once you have considered all of the above, should you start worrying about the risks your IUD may carry.

“The study may sound scary but speaking to your doctor to explore all your options is the best way forward. Every woman is different and birth control is a highly personal decision. The only reason one should consider studies such as this is in order to ensure one is making an informed decision,” concludes Dr Apffelstaedt.   

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About Dr. Justus Apffelstaedt: Dr Justus Apffelstaedt is a specialist surgeon, registered as a specialist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), who has dedicated his professional life to breast, thyroid and parathyroid health management, and soft tissue tumours and has published several peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals, both nationally and internationally.


While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.