October 15, 2010

Being Healthy May Lower Your Chance of Breast Cancer

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Did you need motivation to use that gym membership? Well here it is! Regular activity, maintaining a healthy weight and drinking less alcohol can lower breast cancer risk for women with or without a family history.

Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer diagnosed in women; the first is non-melanoma skin cancer. About 15 percent of all postmenopausal women have a genetic predisposition to the disease. Now researchers at The University of Rochester Medical Center are saying you may be able to help yourself by simply living a healthy lifestyle.

They analyzed data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study that included women ages 50 to 79, but excluded women with a personal history of breast cancer or with a close relative with early-onset breast cancer. Their focus was on whether the American Cancer Society recommendations on diet, exercise and alcohol consumption could possibly influence disease rates.

The WHI-OS data divided women into two groups, those who had a family history of later-onset breast cancer and those who did not. Researchers looked at the cases of invasive breast cancer that arose during a follow-up period of about 5 years. They looked at the relationship between rates of new invasive breast cancer cases, a family history of late-onset breast cancer, and whether either group had changed by the healthy lifestyle recommendations.

Results showed that among women with a family history who followed all three healthy behaviors, the rate of invasive breast cancer was 5.94 per 1,000 woman-years, compared with 6.97 per 1,000 woman-years among women who did not adapt to any healthier changes. Among women without a family history, the rate of invasive breast cancer was 3.51 per 1,000 woman-years compared to 4.67 per 1,000 woman-years.

"It's important to note that a family history of breast cancer can arise in part due to shared unhealthy behaviors that have been passed down for generations," Lead author Robert E. Gramling, M.D., D.Sc., associate professor of Family Medicine, and Community and Preventive Medicine at URMC was quoted saying." Untangling the degree to which genes, environments, and behaviors contribute to the disease is difficult. But our study shows that engaging in a healthy lifestyle can help women, even when familial predisposition is involved."

SOURCE: Breast Cancer Research, October 2010