Moderate exercise, little booze intake and holding down one’s weight might be key strategies that reduce the odds of getting breast cancer—even if a woman’s mother or sister has had the disease.
New data from 85,644 U.S. women, who were followed for an average of about five and a half years as part of the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, confirms earlier evidence that healthy lifestyle choices can sometimes trump genes and environment when it comes to breast cancer. The results of the study were reported online October 12 in Breast Cancer Research.
These findings are important, says Robert Gramling, an associate professor of family medicine and community and preventive medicine at University of Rochester Medical Center and a co-author of the new study, because “particularly with growing awareness of genomics, often those who have a family history of a disease that’s quite scary start thinking, ‘There’s nothing I can do to prevent it,'” he noted. “We’re beginning to find that’s not the case.” Breast cancer is responsible for the second-most cancer deaths in women (lung cancer takes the highest toll), killing some 40,170 U.S. women in 2009, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). About 192,370 new U.S. cases are diagnosed each year.