Fenretinide is a type of vitamin A called a retinoid. When given to premenopausal women who have a history of breast cancer, fenretinide may lower the risk of forming a new breast cancer. Taken over time, fenretinide may cause night blindness and skin disorders. Women must avoid pregnancy while taking this drug because it could harm a developing fetus.
The following have been proven not to be risk factors for breast cancer or their effects on breast cancer risk are not known:
There does not appear to be a link between abortion and breast cancer.
Taking oral contraceptives ("the pill") may slightly increase the risk of breast cancer in current users. This risk decreases over time. The most commonly used oral contraceptive contains estrogen.
Progestin-only contraceptives that are injected or implanted do not appear to increase the risk of breast cancer.
Studies have not proven that being exposed to certain substances in the environment (such as chemicals, metals, dust, and pollution) increases the risk of breast cancer.
Diet is being studied as a risk factor for breast cancer. It is not proven that a diet low in fat or high in fruits and vegetables will prevent breast cancer. For more information on diet and health, see the Fruits and Veggies Web site.
Active and passive cigarette smoking
It has not been proven that either active cigarette smoking or passive smoking (inhaling secondhand smoke) increases the risk of developing breast cancer.
Studies have not found that taking statins (cholesterol -lowering drugs) affects the risk of breast cancer.
Cancer prevention clinical trials are used to study ways to prevent cancer.
Cancer prevention clinical trials are used to study ways to lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Some cancer prevention trials are conducted with healthy people who have not had cancer but who have an increased risk for cancer. Other prevention trials are conducted with people who have had cancer and are trying to prevent another cancer of the same type or to lower their chance of developing a new type of cancer. Other trials are done with healthy volunteers who are not known to have any risk factors for cancer.
The purpose of some cancer prevention clinical trials is to find out whether actions people take can prevent cancer. These may include exercising more or quitting smoking or taking certain medicines, vitamins, minerals, or food supplements.
New ways to prevent breast cancer are being studied in clinical trials.
Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about clinical trials can be found in the Clinical Trials section of the NCI Web site. Check NCI's list of cancer clinical trials for breast cancer prevention trials that are now accepting patients.