Let’s get the bad news out of the way: Black women have the highest death rate from breast cancer of all racial and ethnic groups in this country.

Now for the good news: By making certain lifestyle adjustments, staying up to date on screenings, and taking immediate action if you feel a lump in your breast, you can improve your odds. This is true even if your mother or sister has had breast cancer, or test results show that you have a genetic predisposition. Take the following steps—some tried-and-true, others new and improved—to help protect your breasts:

This article originally appeared in the October 2005 issue of ESSENCE magazine.