Lifestyle modifications prevent one in three breast cancer cases

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A new report has estimated that one in three breast cancer cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes.

Modifications such as weight management, physical activity, nutrition, and alcohol consumption can all contribute to a healthier lifestyle that can help to minimise risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in women in the United States and around the globe. Numerous studies focussed on breast cancer prevention have already been completed, many of which point to the same conclusion; lifestyle modifications offer the best and easiest form of prevention.

Breast cancer prevention

In 2018, The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research updated their breast cancer prevention recommendations categorised by menopause status, where possible.

The recommendations included some of the more common modifiable elements of breast cancer risk with respect to exercise, diet, alcohol, and breast feeding.

The collective recommendations were based on a number of proven facts, including:

  • For postmenopausal women there is a 1.5 to 2.0 times increased risk of breast cancer if a woman is obese;
  • Body fatness is suggested to increase cancer risk as a result of hyperinsulinemia, increased estradiol, and inflammation;
  • The Centers for Disease Control estimate that physical activity alone could prevent one in eight breast cancer cases;
  • Alcohol is a carcinogen attributable to 6.4% of breast cancer cases;
  • Any amount of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer and the more a woman drinks, the higher her risk of breast cancer and
  • The Cancer Update Project from 2017 observed a significant inverse relationship between non-starch vegetable consumption and a lower risk of breast cancer.

Lifestyle education

Dr Juliana Kling from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona said: “Given the magnitude of breast cancer occurrence and the accumulated evidence supporting prevention as the most cost-effective, long-term strategy for reducing breast cancer risk, lifestyle education centred on the American Institute for Cancer Research cancer prevention recommendations should be a core component of routine patient visits.”

Dr Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director, said: “This presentation should provide some valuable insights to healthcare providers who have the power to help guide women to adopt healthier lifestyles which, in turn, will decrease their risk of developing breast cancer.”

The latest research on risk management and most current lifestyle recommendations will be presented during The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in Chicago, September 25-28, 2019.

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