Thirty percent of breast cancers could be prevented by lifestyle changes

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Thirty percent of breast cancers could be prevented by lifestyle changes

The Boston Globe “Daily Dose” blog reports that a study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology “compared 6,386 healthy women with 3,074 breast cancer patients.”
The researchers then “calculated the percentage of cancer cases attributed” to particular risk factors and found that about “37 percent of all postmenopausal breast cancers are caused by factors women can’t change, such as:

  • their family history,
  • their age, or
  • the age of their first and last menstrual period.”

However, the researchers also determined that nearly “30 percent of breast cancers could be prevented by modifying certain lifestyle habits.”
The biggest lifestyle habits were “use of hormone replacement therapy and a lack of physical activity,” while excess “body weight and alcohol consumption” played minor roles.
So, what can you do, as a woman, to reduce YOUR risk of breast cancer:

  • If you are menopausal, and using hormone therapy, use as low a dose as possible for as short a time as possible.
  • If you are overweight, reduce or normalize your weight.
  • If you use alcohol products, consider stopping and using minimal alcohol. Although some alcohol may reduce your cardiovascular risk, we have no idea of the amount of alcohol, if any, that is safe when it comes to breast cancer risk.
  • Increase your physical activity.

By the way, this new study mirrors another of which I’ve blogged, “Three Healthy Habits Cut Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds“. That study recommended:

  • Exercise (20 minutes of heart-rate raising exercise at least five times a week),
  • Maintain a healthy weight (BMI of 18.5 to under 25), and
  • Watch alcohol intake (fewer than seven drinks per week).

The major new change is in the alcohol recommendations. You can read more about this in my blog “Study indicates moderate alcohol consumption increases women’s risk of cancer“.

Three Healthy Habits Cut Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds


  1. Elizabeth Steiner MD says:

    Amen, Dr. Walt! I give public talks about this frequently. And honestly, this advice on lifestyle modification would also probably prevent more than 30% of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc., etc. We have to do everything we can to help people make good choices about their lifestyle and thereby have a healthier, happier life!

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