Want to dramatically reduce your breast cancer risk?

USA Today ran a number of articles discussing breast cancer, focusing in particular on the role of inflammation. The great news here is that doing something that is highly healthy (increasing exercise) seems to reduce breast cancer risk.

USA Today reports that “recently,” scientists have “begun to untangle how staying active helps keep cancer at bay.” In particular, exercise may change the microenvironment of cells, including “surrounding tissue, blood vessels and immune cells.”

Exercise may “prevent chronic inflammation, a process that can fuel cancers,” lower “levels of both insulin and sex hormones, such as estrogen, which release growth factors that let tumor cells survive and spread,” and “relieve psychological stress, which may further reduce inflammation.”

In a second article, USA Today reports, “Researchers are investigating the benefits of ‘anti-cancer’ diets that may help regulate both inflammation and new blood vessel growth.”

Meanwhile, research is ongoing in anti-inflammatory drugs, “such as aspirin, as a way to reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer.” In addition, “doctors are testing a diabetes drug, called metformin, which lowers insulin levels, as a way to prevent relapses in women who have had breast cancer.”

Other work focuses on beta blockers, which reduce blood pressure. “Preliminary studies suggest that breast cancer patients who took the drugs before and after breast cancer diagnosis had a lower risk of relapse and death.”

Weight control, along with physical fitness, also reduces disease risk.

USA Today also reports, “Women can’t control the things that most strongly shape their risk: age, race, family history and the ages at which they hit puberty and menopause. … Yet experts say women can embrace one prevention strategy with unequivocal benefits: exercise,” and eating a healthful diet in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Notably, “avoiding extra pounds reduces the risk of not only breast cancer, but tumors of the kidneys, esophagus, colon and uterine lining, says the National Cancer Institute. Staying lean also reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, joint problems and other ailments.”

Other tips given include drinking in moderation (if at all), avoiding unnecessary radiation exposure, avoiding hormone replacement therapy, and avoiding chemicals that interfere with hormones, such as BPA or phthalates.

A separate USA Today article also discusses the role of exercise and fitness in lowering “the risk of cancer coming back.”

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