A recent study shows that a healthy lifestyle lowers the risk of breast cancer. The research published in JAMA Oncology journal concludes that almost 30 percent of breast cancer cases can be prevented or delayed by simply taking care of ourselves. This means maintaining a healthy body weight, giving up cigarettes, watching our alcohol intake, and not using menopausal hormone therapy.
Until now, the standard breast cancer prediction model was the Gail model. It calculates the risk by asking questions such as the woman’s age, the history of breast cancer in her family, her menstruation, the pregnancies she’s had, and whether she’s had a mammogram or a breast biopsy and what were the results.
These are the general factors that physicians tend to put emphasis on. Beyond this, things aren’t that clear. Some doctors ask about alcohol consumption and consider obesity a factor. However, such factors have not been inserted into existing prediction models.
The new research, led by a team of scientists from Johns Hopkins University and the National Cancer Institute, aims to change that. A healthy lifestyle lowers the risk of breast cancer, and that is a fact. The study revealed that women who have the highest risk of developing breast cancer are the same women who most rapidly reduce that risk by maintaining a healthy body weight, staying away from cigarettes and alcohol, and not turning to hormone replacement therapy when at menopause.
To discover such findings, the team sorted through the information presented in eight studies. The studies followed thousands of women for many years and captured all the breast cancer cases among the participants. On the basis of approximately 37,000 women from Australia, Europe, and the US, researchers managed to build a model of risk. Then, they projected the information on the population of white women in the US.
Scientists have looked through the women’s genetic information in search of 24 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) that were known to be linked to breast cancer. Afterwards, they extrapolated for another 68 SNPs that have also been linked to breast cancer but have not been studied enough.
Researchers then summed up the two sets of data. The approach is unique and has a great potential, scientists believe.
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