1 in 3 breast cancer cases could be prevented, report suggests


As many as one in three breast cancer cases could be prevented with simple lifestyle changes, a new report suggests.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, say the easiest form of prevention for women is eating healthily, exercising more and drinking less alcohol.

They found that losing weight could slash women’s risk by more than half and cutting out alcohol could prevent nearly 10 percent of breast cancer cases.

Breast cancer is the number one killer of women between the ages of 20 to 59 and the odds may seem alarming, but the team lists a few steps women can take for themselves to lower their risk.

One out of every eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime, according to the American Cancer Society.

More than 268,000 cases are estimated be diagnosed in 2019 and more than 41,700 will die.

It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, behind lung cancer. Breast cancer does also occur in men but the incidence rate is less than one percent.

For the new report, the team looked at a 2018 joint paper from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research on how certain lifestyle factors affect the risk of developing cancer.

Researchers found that postmenopausal women are two times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer if they are obese.

One reason could be due to estrogen levels. After menopause, estrogen is mainly produced by fat tissue, making heavier women have higher blood estrogen levels than leaner women.

A 2011 study from the Breast Cancer Collaborative Group found that women who have higher estrogen levels have an increased risk of breast cancer.

This closely follows recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which estimates that physical activity alone could prevent one in eight breast cancer cases.

The team adds that daily exercise goes hand-in-hand with good nutrition.

A 2017 study from the Cancer Update Project found that women who ate more non-starch vegetables such as broccoli and asparagus had a lower risk of breast cancer.

Researchers also found that alcohol is a carcinogen that is responsible for more than six percent of breast cancer cases.

Since then, multiple studies have stated that women who have two to three alcoholic drinks per day increase their breast cancer risk by 20 percent.

‘Any amount of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer and the more a woman drinks, the higher her risk of breast cancer,’ the authors wrote.

The research will be presented at The North American Menopause Society’s Annual Meeting in Chicago between Wednesday, September 25, and Saturday, September 28.

‘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,’ said Dr Stephanie Faubion, medical director of the North American Menopause Society.

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