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Breast cancer: 6 ways to reduce your risk

  • In this May 6, 2010 file photo, a radiologist uses a magnifying glass to check mammograms for breast cancer in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
    By Ilene Manacher

    Breast cancer may have touched you or someone you know -- a mother, sister, colleague or friend.

    It's the most common form of cancer for women worldwide, and the second most common (after skin cancer) among women in the United States. About one in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and that finds many women wondering if there's anything they can do to beat the odds.

    A lot is out of your control. "Most people who are diagnosed with breast cancer don't have any risk factors aside from being female and getting older," says Susan Brown, Managing Director of Health and Mission Program Education at Susan G. Komen, an organization dedicated to ending breast cancer.

    You can't control a family history of breast cancer or having a genetic mutation that increases the risk, although knowing about these can help you make decisions about your health.

    But there are some risk factors you can influence.

    For one, the trio of obesity, lack of exercise and a high calorie diet are linked to a higher risk of developing not just breast cancer, but any cancer, says Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society.

    "Think of it like a three-legged stool," Brawley told CBS News. "The combination already causes nearly a third of all cancers."

    Read on for six ways you can reduce your breast cancer risk.