New study provides ways women can reduce risk of breast cancer

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A new report outlined several ways women could impact their own health and reduce their risk for breast cancer.

Doctors hope the findings will empower women.

Eighteen-year-old Graciela Cruz has gone with her mom to all her breast cancer appointments, which made her think about her own health.

"I get more worried now. I see what could happen to me," Cruz said.

New findings from the World Cancer Research Fund revealed key ways to help women protect themselves.

"With certain amounts and types of activity, with certain changes in our lifestyle - we can actually impact and decrease our risk of getting breast cancer in the future," said Dr. Sheri Marquez, radiation oncologist with Adventist White Memorial.

Researchers looked at 120 studies that involved 12 million women. Among their findings was strong evidence that drinking one alcoholic beverage per day increased breast cancer risk by 5 percent.

That was for premenopausal women. For postmenopausal women that risk went up to roughly 9 percent.

"Alcohol is a known carcinogen and we also think that alcohol may increase circulating estrogen levels in women," Marquez said.

Researchers found regular, vigorous exercise was also linked to a lower risk.

"When you exercise, you have impact on your immune system. You have impact on circulating levels of fat," Marquez said.

Another protective factor which may seem unusual is a correlation between obesity in early adulthood and a lower risk. Marquez said this finding needs more research.

"That implies a hormonal effect or a regulatory effect that we may not fully understand," she said.

But researchers found being overweight - as an adult - increases your breast cancer risk overall. Cruz said she's ready to make some changes.

"I feel like it's good. People should be aware of what can affect and what can't, like what can help you," she said.
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