You Can Reduce Your Risk for Breast Cancer
A new study shows that you can significantly reduce your risk for breast cancer — even if you are genetically predisposed to the disease — by exercising regularly, limiting the amount of alcohol you consume and attaining a healthy body mass index (BMI).
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York analyzed data from the Women’s Health Initiative study, which began in 1993 and included more than 85,000 U.S. women aged 50 to 79. They found that those with no family history of breast cancer were about a quarter less likely to develop the disease if they did these three things. The researchers were surprised to find, however, that the women who had breast cancer in their immediate family had a similar reduction in risk if they adhered to the same lifestyle guidelines.
Lead study author Dr. Robert Gramling said that he suspects that some women with a genetic predisposition to the disease may believe that there is nothing they can do to prevent it. This is why he wanted to examine the effects of lifestyle habits on breast cancer risk.
“Whether or not you have a family history, the risk of breast cancer was lower for women engaged in these three sets of behavior compared to women who were not,” he said of his findings.
The results of this study were published online last week in the journal Breast Cancer Research.
Want to use these study finding to reduce your risk for breast cancer? Here’s what you need to do:
- Exercise! The researchers defined regular exercise as 20 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity at least five times a week. They speculated, however, that the risk-reduction benefits might be even greater if the amount or intensity of activity was increased.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all. For women, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as consuming fewer than seven alcoholic beverages per week (and generally, no more than 1 drink per day).
- Maintain a healthy BMI. A healthy body mass index is defined as between 18.5 and 24.9.