The cause of breast cancer isn't completely understood, but many factors are associated with increased risk. These include family history, early menstruation, late menopause and simply getting older. However, women and men (yes, men can get breast cancer, too) who lead a healthy lifestyle appear to be better protected.
Following general guidelines to decrease overall cancer risk may decrease risk for breast cancer as well. These include eating a nutritious diet based on plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, being physically active for at least 30 to 60 minutes per day, and maintaining a healthy body weight.
The effect of dietary fat on breast cancer risk isn't clear. Different types of fat and the proportions eaten may affect risk differently. For example, omega-3s from fatty fish like salmon and tuna may help protect against breast cancer.
Other dietary choices and lifestyle habits—such as eating lots of fruits and veggies, getting plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy weight—may well override any influence of dietary fat on breast cancer risk.
However, it still makes sense to limit high-fat, low-nutrient foods in favor of lower-fat, nutrient-rich foods. For instance, fruits and vegetables are usually low in calories and may help with weight control when substituted for higher-calorie foods. Plus, produce provides fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which offer their own protective effects.