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Bone health and breast cancer fact sheet

Produced by Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) 

Based on BCNA’s Bone health and breast cancer fact sheet

Some breast cancer treatments affect your bones 

diagram of bent arm showing elbow bone joints

Sometimes hormone therapy can lower your bone density. Bone density means the strength and thickness of your bones. When your bone density is low your bones are weaker. This means they may be more likely to break. 

If you are given hormone therapy to treat your breast cancer you may need to take extra care to keep your bones healthy. 

Find out if your bones are at risk

x-ray of chest

The strength and thickness of your bones can be tested with X-rays. This test is called a ‘bone mineral density test’. Sometimes it is called a ‘DXA’ test.

Your doctor can organise this test for you.
This test is different from the bone scan that you may have had before. 

Check the cost with the clinic that does the test. You may be able to get a Medicare rebate.

Ask the clinic if you can get a Medicare rebate. Ask how much the test will cost you. 

Things that help to keep your bones healthy

 yes woman powerwalking and smiling 

Exercise 2 hours a week. Start with gentle exercise. As you go along you can make the exercise stronger.

 yes  illustration of fresh fruit and vegetables

Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals.

yes  yoghurt, milk, broccoli and cheese isolated 

Eat foods high in calcium. That means milk, yoghurt, cheese, fish with soft bones, firm tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, dried figs, apricots and beans.

yes  Big yellow letter D with a sun wearing glasses over it

Get enough vitamin D. You should go out in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes a day. But do not go out when it is very hot. You can also get vitamin D from eggs, liver and oily fish. Margarine and some cereals have vitamin D added. They are also good.

 yes three jars of pills 

You can take a calcium supplement but talk to your doctor first. It may affect other medicines. If your bone density is low, your doctor might give you medicines to strengthen your bones.

To keep your bones healthy, try to do these things

 no  wine bottle and glass

Avoid alcohol. If you want to drink, have no more than 2 standard drinks a day.

no   salt shaker, chocolate, steak and takeaway soft drink container

Some food like coffee and tea, chocolate, salt, red meat and soft drinks reduce calcium.
Eat or drink less of these things.

 no cigarette 

Smoking lowers bone density. If you need help to stop smoking, tell your doctor.

Here are exercises that are good for bone health

  • Netball
  • Running
  • Lawn bowls
  • Basketball
  • Jogging
  • Yoga
  • Aerobics
  • Walking
  • Pilates
  • Dance
  • Climbing stairs
  • Tai chi
  • Tennis
  • Weights

Where to find more information

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA)

BCNA logo

For breast cancer information and support, call 1800 500 258 or visit BCNA's website.

Talk to your doctor


Osteoporosis Australia

Osteoporosis Australia's logo

For information about bone health
call  1800 242 141 or visit Osteoporosis Australia's website.


Counterpart's logo

To learn how to improve bone health, listen to the ‘Breast cancer and bone health’ podcast at Counterpart.

For information on bone health and
how to keep your bones strong visit

Breast Cancer

For information about cancer treatments and keeping your bones healthy visit Breast Cancer Care UK's website.