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Study: Breast cancer risk lower with 3 habits

October 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new study suggests that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of breast cancer, even in women with a family history of the disease.Forty-two-year-old Matty Singer has had a double mastectomy, chemo and is now preparing for radiation. Singer remains upbeat for herself, her husband and her four year old son.

"You have to have a positive attitude that you're gonna get out of this," said Singer.

Singer doesn't have a family history nor any of the breast cancer genes. She looks back on her diet and exercise.

"I had gained a lot of weight because I had my son later in life," said Singer. "So I gained 30 pounds that I couldn't take off."

A new report in the journal Breast Cancer Research sheds light on what Singer has been thinking about.

Scientists found exercise, a healthy weight, and moderate alcohol intake lowered a woman's risk for breast cancer even if she had a mom or sister diagnosed with the disease.

"We've got more and more studies coming out now that really gives us the concrete data to suggest that this is really going to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer," said breast cancer surgeon Dr. Deanna Attai.

Dr. Attai says it's information that can be applied to all women with a family history or not.

The theory is that overweight women produce more estrogen which can contribute to cancer.

"Women who reduce weight after being diagnosed with breast cancer will reduce their risk of recurrence," said Dr. Attai.

The researchers analyzed the data based on the degree to which women adhered to the American Cancer Society's recommendations on diet, exercise and alcohol consumption.

  • A minimum of 20 minutes of vigorous exercise at least five days a week.
  • Normal body weight or body mass index of 18.5 to under 25.
  • Drinking no more than one alcoholic beverage a day.

Singer knows adopting these three healthy habits can only help.

"Drink a little less. Walk a little bit more," said Singer. "If that's gonna make a difference in the outcome in the end they you should do it."

Researchers believe if women followed the American Cancer Society's exercise guidelines they could lower their risk even more.


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