You already know that October is breast cancer awareness month and we reported an iPhone app related to breast cancer awareness. I have been thinking of sharing information along the theme of breast cancer awareness and read about a study, which concluded that women at high risk of breast cancer owing to factors like family history can reduce the risk by shifting towards a healthy lifestyle. The healthy life style was defined by regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake and maintaining healthy body weight.
What did the study involve?
The study was lead by Dr. Robert Gramling, a professor at the University of Rochester in New York. The study involved:
- analysis of data from 85,644 postmenopausal women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term study launched in 1991 and conducted by the National Institutes of Health.
- a woman was considered to have a family history of breast cancer if her mother or sister developed the disease after age 45.
- women who had previously had breast cancer
- women with a mother or sister who had developed early-onset breast cancer (before age 45)
This was done because as these women had higher risk of breast genetic factors. The study was published in the journal Breast Cancer Research.
How did researchers define healthy lifestyle?
The researchers defined healthy lifestyle as
- regular exercise as 20 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity at least five times a week
- moderate drinking as fewer than seven drinks per week
- a healthy body weight as having a body mass index or BMI (a measure of a person’s weight in proportion to her height) between 18.5 and 24.9.
Why was eating fruits or vegetable not included in healthy lifestyle?
Researchers felt that there is enough evidence of positive impact of...
eating healthy on mitigation of breast cancer risk, so they excluded this factor from their study.
- women with a family history of breast cancer lowered their risk by about 25% by getting regular exercise, limiting their alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy body weight.
- Similarly, women without a family history of the disease who followed a healthy lifestyle lowered their risk by about the same amount
Dr Gramling stated that “It would have been expected that women without a family history of the disease would have lowered their risk,” with a healthy lifestyle, he said. That women with a family history of breast cancer lowered their risk by a nearly-identical amount was more unexpected, he said.
The researchers stressed that based on the study, you are at a risk of breast cancer due to your family history, which you can’t control, but you can reduce this risk by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Just think about it, a stitch in time saves nine.