Body Care

…of breast can­cer. Fol­low our guide­lines.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Know your risks

A30-year-old white woman in the US has about an 11% chance, on av­er­age, of de­vel­op­ing in­va­sive breast can­cer by the time she is 80 years old. That’s one of the pre­dic­tions of a new model de­vel­oped by re­searchers at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity and other in­sti­tu­tions around the world, based on data from eight large pop­u­la­tion­based stud­ies that in­cluded more than 35,000 women. The risk is even higher – some­times much higher – for women who have a fam­ily his­tory (mother or

sis­ter who has had breast can­cer), gene vari­a­tions, or other non-mod­i­fi­able fac­tors such as early menar­che or late menopause. Of course, the ac­tual risk varies, de­pend­ing on a woman’s par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances. Here’s the good news that came out of the re­search: Some of the risk ap­pears to be mod­i­fi­able. Pub­lished in ‘JAMA On­col­ogy’, the study re­ported that up to 30% of breast can­cer cases could be pre­vented if women fol­low four spe­cific lifestyle strate­gies: Lose weight if they are over­weight, don’t smoke, cut down on or elim­i­nate al­co­hol, and steer clear of hor­mone ther­apy. Even bet­ter news for women at el­e­vated risk: As the au­thors wrote, ‘the ben­e­fit this pop­u­la­tion could achieve by chang­ing mod­i­fi­able risk fac­tors is ex­pected to be larger for those who are at higher risk from non­mod­i­fi­able fac­tors’. They might, in fact, be able to reduce their risk to that of women at av­er­age risk. Be­cause the study in­cluded data only from white women, the re­sults may not ap­ply to women of other races – though it makes sense for all women to fol­low these risk-re­duc­ing strate­gies since they pro­vide gen­eral health ben­e­fits. Sim­i­lar find­ings came from a study a few years ago in ‘Breast Re­search’ that an­a­lyzed data from more than 85,000 post-menopausal women. Those who main­tained a healthy weight, limited al­co­hol and ex­er­cised had a 15 to 25% re­duced risk of breast can­cer over a five- year pe­riod, com­pared to women who didn’t main­tain such lifestyle habits.

BREAST BETS

What­ever your breast can­cer risk fac­tors are, here are some ba­sic steps to take: Main­tain a nor­mal body mass in­dex (BMI) be­tween 18.5 and 25. To cal­cu­late your BMI, mul­ti­ply your weight (in pounds) by 703; di­vide the re­sult by your height (in inches); then di­vide again by your height. Or use the BMI cal­cu­la­tor (avail­able on­line). Be phys­i­cally ac­tive at least 30 min­utes most days. The Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety rec­om­mends at least 150 min­utes of mod­er­ate ex­er­cises or 75 min­utes of vig­or­ous ex­er­cise a week, prefer­ably spread through­out the week. Limit al­co­hol to one drink a day. Bet­ter yet, drink only on oc­ca­sion or not at all, es­pe­cially if you know you are at high risk for breast can­cer of if you have had breast can­cer. In a re­view of stud­ies pub­lished, re­searchers from the In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Can­cer found a clear dose-re­sponse re­la­tion­ship be­tween al­co­hol con­sump­tion and breast can­cer. For treat­ment of menopausal symp­toms, seek al­ter­na­tives to hor­mone ther­apy. If you do opt for hor­mones, take the low­est ef­fec­tive dose for the short­est pos­si­ble time. And, of course, if you smoke, quit.

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