RVNA Today: Lifestyle factors and breast cancer

The American Cancer Society reports that in the U.S., on average, a woman has a one-in-eight chance of developing breast cancer. A new report from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund reviewed more than 100 studies that looked at the relationship between breast cancer risk and diet, exercise and body weight. Researchers found that regular exercise was tied to small reductions in the risk of breast cancer. Women who were moderately active throughout the day tended to have a 13% lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, which is the most common type. For breast cancers that developed before menopause, only vigorous exercise was tied to a lower risk (17%) of the disease. Risk of developing breast cancer was also elevated among women who drank regularly, even at the moderate one drink per day level. This appeared to boost the odds of cancer by 5-9%. Women who were overweight throughout adulthood faced a heightened risk of breast cancer after menopause. For every 5-point increase in body mass index (BMI), the risk of breast cancer increased by 12%. While some risk factors can’t be changed, such as age and having a family history of breast cancer, lifestyle choices can make a difference. Women should be mindful of the risk factors that they can influence and those they cannot and make choices that are right for them.