Potentially more than four in 10 cases of breast cancer could be prevented if women followed healthier lifestyles, research by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and Imperial College London has found.
Changes to lifestyle, such as drinking less alcohol, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and breastfeeding, could help stop thousands of women developing breast cancer. In Britain, more than 45,000 women develop the cancer every year.
This is the largest ever review of evidence on the impact lifestyle has on the cancer, with more than 900 scientific studies included.
“This study represents the clearest picture we have ever had on how lifestyle affects a woman’s risk of breast cancer,” Professor Martin Wiseman, from the WCRF, has stated.
“This means we are now more sure than ever before that by limiting the amount of alcohol they drink, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active, women can make a significant difference to their risk.
“As well as this, there is also convincing evidence that mothers who breastfeed reduce their risk and breastfeeding probably also reduces babies’ chances of gaining excess weight as they grow.”
“We’ve known for some time that maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and reducing alcohol intake can help lower breast cancer risk,” said Dr Sarah Cant, from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, “It’s good news that studies continue to confirm these simple steps. Although it’s not yet possible to prevent breast cancer, it’s important for women to be aware of the things they can do to reduce their chances of developing breast cancer.”
“Having a healthy lifestyle doesn’t guarantee a woman won’t get breast cancer but it reduces her risk,” said Dr Alison Ross, from Cancer Research UK
“If women attend screening and keep an eye out for any symptoms that could be breast cancer they are more likely to pick up any early signs of the disease when treatment is most likely to be successful.”