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Healthy living helps prevent breast cancer

Tuesday October 12th, 2010

Women with a family history of breast cancer may benefit from adopting a healthy lifestyle to stave off the disease, researchers say today.

Researchers found these women cut their risk by about 14 per cent as a result of taking vigorous exercise, keeping their weight normal and restricting alcohol consumption.

The findings, in the journal Breast Cancer Research, may not help women with a strong genetic risk of breast cancer.

One possible explanation, according to researchers, is that some families pass "unhealthy" lifestyles through the generations - creating a strong risk of women developing the disease.

Researchers at the University of Rochester, USA, studied women over the age of 50 taking part in a major project called the Women's Health Initiative.

Researchers avoid families where women contracted breast cancer before the age of 45 because this probably meant a "dominant" genetic pattern.

Researcher Dr Robert Gramling said: "It's important to note that a family history of breast cancer can arise in part due to shared unhealthy behaviours that have been passed down for generations.

"Untangling the degree to which genes, environments, and behaviours contribute to the disease is difficult. But our study shows that engaging in a healthy lifestyle can help women, even when familial predisposition is involved."

The research showed a woman with a family history who lived a healthy lifestyle was about 20 per cent more likely to develop the disease than an "unhealthy" woman with no family history. But she was 14 per cent less likely to succumb than an unhealthy woman with a similar family history.

Breast Cancer Research on-line October 12 2010

Tags: Cancer | Diet & Food | Fitness | North America | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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