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Three ways to lower breast cancer risk

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

The conventional wisdom has been that, if you have a genetic predisposition to breast cancer, lifestyle changes, that might benefit other women, won’t help you. Your genes rule, so the thinking has gone until now, and there isn’t much you can do about it.

Now, I’m happy to report, new research in the journal Breast Cancer Research suggests that you don’t have to be a hostage to your genes. The study,  by researcher Dr. Robert Gramling of the University of Rochester in New York, followed approximately 85,000 post-menopausal women for more than five years. And while it was true that women with a family history of breast cancer were at greater risk to get the disease, he discovered something very promising. Women who:

  • exercised moderately (20 minutes per day for five days a week);
  • maintained normal body weight;
  • and drank no more than one alcoholic beverage per day

… lowered their risk of breast cancer. Yes, even those who had a family history of the disease.

Among those with a family history who followed the above guidelines and developed breast cancer, the rate was six in one thousand, compared to seven in one thousand among those who failed to follow the guidelines.

As I’ve been telling my patients and readers for years, there are so many benefits to maintaining a healthy weight. This study adds one more.

For your own health and the sake of those who love you, take good care of your body and it should take care of you for a very long time.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH