Breast Cancer Risks You Can Change

To prevent breast cancers, scientists look for risk factors (anything that increases your chance of developing cancer) and protective factors (anything that decreases your chance of developing cancer) starting even before birth. We can't change the genes we inherit or our age. However, some risk factors for cancer can be avoided, such as smoking.

Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may lower your risk but it does not mean that you will not get breast cancer. ZBC focuses on individual and community actions and environments that we can change.

We provide these materials free of charge to schools, nonprofits, businesses and others interested in sharing our materials with their clients or their communities. Please fill out this online Materials Request Form if you would like to request copies in English and/or Spanish. 

If you would like to support our mission to educate diverse, low-income communities about breast cancer prevention, we welcome donations to offset the cost of developing, printing and mailing these materials. Thank you for your support!

ZBC 18x24Poster 13Ways English 2018 webZBC 18x24Poster 13Ways Spanish 2018 webl

(Download the poster in English or Spanish

Check out our brochures! Breast Cancer Risks You Can Change

Breast Development, Biology and Density

The Breast Biologues

The Breast Biologues: A biology dialogue about breast cancer and the environment is a 15-minute animated video premiered in November 2010. Narrated by Emmy Award-winning actor Peter Coyote, The Breast Biologues uses time-lapse imaging to explain how the normal breast develops and how exposures to potential cancer-causing chemicals during specific periods of development might influence future breast cancer risk. In addition, comic books based on the video are available in EnglishSpanish, and Vietnamese and can be used in conjunction with the video or on their own. The comic books discuss the biology of the breast and latest BCERP research.

Read more: Breast Development, Biology and Density

Breast Cancer Risk Factors We Can Change Together

Woman at a protest with BRAVE written on her chest.

While we can do a lot of things as individuals to reduce our own risk of breast cancer, there are many risk factors that we can’t address alone. Built into our society, for example, are racism, unsafe chemicals, and policies that harm our health. All of these and more shape breast cancer risk and can only be changed by working together. This page is a work-in-progress and more areas where collective action is necessary will be added.

Read more: Breast Cancer Risk Factors We Can Change Together

Download Healthy Activity Coloring Booklet for Ages 5+

Find multiple cultures and languages below!
Descargue el folleto de actividades saludables
Download the activity booklet for American Indians/Alaskan Natives
Télécharger le livret d’activités bonnes pour la santé
Kopyahin Ang Mga Pahina ng Aksyong Pangkalusugan

 Healthy Activity Booklet:
Being Healthy is About Feeling Our Best!
 (English PDF)

healthy activity for blog

Read more: Download Healthy Activity Coloring Booklet for Ages 5+

For Girls & Their Families

Studies show that our risk for many chronic disease as adults, like breast cancer and heart disease, is influenced by things that happen in childhood or even before birth. As researchers studied why some girls begin puberty earlier than others, we have been working to help girls start healthly habits and avoid toxic chemicals. Through the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), we partnered to produce health messages for adolescent girls and their parents/caregivers.

Reducing her risk now

bcerp general audience brochure(In English and Spanish)

Read more: For Girls & Their Families

For Organizations & Health Professionals Serving Girls

Clinicians, researchers and community advocates partnered in the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP) to develop messages about pubertal development and reducing our daughters' risks for breast cancer as a community.

Looking for Outreach materials? The BCERP website offers factsheets on chemicals, a Safe Plastics Guide, a series of Talking Points sheets and this brochure.

Taking Action in Your Community brochure

bcerp outreach brochure

Read more: For Organizations & Health Professionals Serving Girls

Building a Youth Advisory Board

yab meeting slide

We worked with girls who were in the CYGNET Study, creating a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) to give them a voice in the research. We offer our experience to help other groups who want to empower youth in their projects. We can provide a summary with the board's purpose, how members were chosen, what work was completed, and recommendations for improvements in the future. We can also provide meeting agendas, powerpoints, and evaluations as well as examples of the deliverables and materials produced by the YAB for other study participants and the lay public.

Here is a sample YAB Meeting agenda, powerpoint, worksheet and evaluation.


Survivorship Factsheets

Facts for people who have had breast cancer and those who care for them

Haga clic aquí para español

In collaboration with breast cancer survivors and scientists involved in the Pathways Study, ZBC is creating a series of Factsheets on topics chosen as important by multi-lingual and lower-income Black, Asian-American, Latina and White women. Each weaves stories and research with specific tips and resources for addressing concerns. These factsheets are for people diagnosed with cancer and those who care for them.

If you would like to request hard copies for your community, please complete this Materials Request Form

Read more: Survivorship Factsheets

Breast Cancer Recurrence Prevention

One of the biggest fears facing a person who has "survived" breast cancer is the chance it could return or recurrence. In addition to therapies doctors suggest, we know that people who eat healthy, get exercise and have good support from friends and/or family generally live longer after cancer treatment. Still, even if you do everything just right, cancer might come back.

Based on the current evidence, we suggest:

  • Eating healthy
  • Physical activity (exercise at work, home, gym or wherever), start as slow and low impact as you need and build up
  • Stress management (yoga, meditation, prayer)
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure and/or use a healthy sunscreen (melanoma risk is much higher after breast cancer)
  • Get support, it can be from a cancer group or friends and family

 Be Healthy After Treatment, American Cancer Society. Offers advice about getting and staying healthy.

Improving Life After Breast Cancer

ZBC works with partners to identify and promote ways to improve the lives of the almost 4 million people living in the United States who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Since 2003, we have worked with scientists, clinicians and survivors on the Pathways Breast Cancer Survivorship Study. This has provided the basis for our Survivorship Factsheets.

We coordinated with clinical care and social service organizations in the Breast Cancer Survivorship Navigation Collaborative to increase access to patient navigation and survivorship care planning in communities with fewer resources. ZBC is works with researchers on specific issues, such as cardiac rehabilitation after breast cancer. And we are active in the California Dialogue on Cancer to collaborate with others on improving life after a cancer diagnosis.

Who are Breast Cancer Survivors?

We use a standard definition of cancer survival and our resources may be useful for people at any stage of survivorship and those who care for them, from diagnosis to end of life.

An individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis, through the balance of his or her life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also impacted by the survivorship experience and are therefore included in this definition.

- National Cancer Institute (adapted from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship)

Read more: Who are Breast Cancer Survivors?