For women who have survived breast cancer, few ideas are as frightening as the prospect of a new cancer in their other breast.

They're called "contralateral" breast cancers, and if you've already gone one round with this disease, then I know that very phrase is probably enough to keep you up at night.

But you can take action now to help minimize your risk of developing a contralateral cancer by following the very same common-sense advice I give to all my patients who are looking to keep healthy and avoid disease: eat right and stay at a good weight, drink only moderately and avoid smoking.

Common sense, right? You bet. But not common enough, because too many people fall into bad lifestyle habits, even after they've had a wake-up call like cancer.

Researchers found that obese women who survived one breast cancer are 40 percent more likely to develop a contralateral cancer. Women who smoked and women who drank seven or more alcoholic beverages per week, had twice the risk. And women who both drank heavily and smoked had a seven-fold increase in contralateral cancer risk, according to a study published in September in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In other words, as with so many other conditions, what we put into our bodies plays a major role in what happens to them.

To me, the single most important issue is weight. Fat tissue can boost the body's estrogen levels. Those breast cancer tumors, in turn, feed off that estrogen. Eat bad food, and you're not just depriving your own body of what it needs – you're feeding the cancer.

Look at it this way: If you've beaten cancer once, you've won the battle – but not necessarily the war. Treat your body right after that initial victory, and you can reduce your odds of having to fight another one.