News can often be confusing with various health fads being described as healthy one week and unhealthy the next. However, in a comprehensive new report from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), the results are clear. To lower risk of breast cancer, women need to maintain a healthy weight, be physically active, and limit alcohol.
The study compiled and evaluated worldwide research on how diet, weight and exercise affect breast cancer risk. Researchers already know that causes of breast cancer include age, early menstrual period and a family history of breast cancer. But to what extent does a woman’s lifestyle affect her risk of developing breast cancer? After analyzing 119 studies, including data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer, the report found that women can play an active role in decreasing their risk of breast cancer.
Alcohol’s Role in Breast Cancer
They study found that drinking just 1-ounce of hard liquor, an 8-ounce beer, or a small glass of wine a day increases breast cancer risk. A drink with 10 grams of alcohol content (a standard drink is 14 grams of alcohol) increases a woman’s risk for both pre-menopausal breast cancer (5% increased risk) and post-menopausal breast cancer (9% increased risk).
Exercise’s Role in Breast Cancer
The report also shows conclusively that vigorous exercise (running or fast bicycling) lowers the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. The report confirmed existing research that moderate exercise (gardening or yoga) decreases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.
The report also showed that overweight or obese women have a higher risk of developing post-menopausal breast cancer. Women who breastfeed decrease the likelihood of developing breast cancer.
Things You Can Do to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer
While you can’t control all your risk factors (age, heredity, etc.), you can feel empowered to act to lower your breast cancer risk.
If you’re already physically active, try working a little longer or a little harder. Make simple food changes to improve protection. Substitute vegetables for high-carb and foods with trans-fat, such as microwave popcorn, cookies, chips, and crackers. If you drink alcohol, have a single drink or less per day.