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Tobacco PDF Print E-mail


While the evidence has not been conclusive, there is growing research linking tobacco use to an increased risk of breast cancer (whether a woman actively smokes or inhales second-hand smoke). However, exposure to tobacco may affect breast tissue differently depending on what stage of development the tissue is in.


Current research suggests that women who begin smoking in adolescence and before carrying a full-term pregnancy may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of tobacco smoke on breast cancer risk. Adolescence is a period of rapid development for the breasts, so the breast tissue may be more susceptible to cancer-causing agents. Full development of the breast tissue takes place after a first full-term pregnancy, when hormones cause breast tissue to mature in a way that seems to protect against the effects of some cancer-causing agents.


Current smokers can improve their health by quitting. In general, the longer you don't smoke the more you lower your risk of cancer.

Want to learn more about how tobacco impacts breast cancer risk in young girls?
Check out the START Project for research on this topic and examples of messages developed for young girs on modifiable risk factors for breast cancer.

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Alcohol PDF Print E-mail



Alcohol is the most commonly used substance by teenage girls and young women. However, there is evidence that drinking alcohol, even at low levels, leads to an increased risk for breast cancer. This link is attributed to increases in estrogen for female alcohol consumers, which leads to a higher chance of breast cell mutation and therefore a higher risk of developing breast cancer. It doesn’t matter whether a woman drinks wine, beer, or liquor; the risks of drinking increase as more alcohol is consumed. Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines recommend that adult women limit themselves to between zero and two standard drinks on any given day, and avoid getting drunk or intoxicatedIt is also recommended for women who currently do not drink that they not start, since this puts them at the lowest risk for an alcohol-related problem.


For more on the Alcohol facts click here 

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Physical Activity PDF Print E-mail



Research shows that teenage girls and young women are less physically active than guys and are even less active as they get older. However, the evidence is very strong that girls and young women who exercise regularly as teens have a substantially lower risk of developing breast cancer in the future compared to those who are less active. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that youth aged 12-17 years get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity each day. This includes participating in vigorous-intensity activities at least three days per week, and doing activities that strengthen muscle and bone at least three days per week. The guidelines recommend that young adults over 18 years accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. It is also recommended that young adults engage in muscle and bone strengthening activities at least two days per week.


For more on the Physical Activity facts click here.

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