Lifestyle modifications key to preventing many breast cancer cases

Expert reports estimate that one in three breast cancer cases could be prevented by lifestyle modifications, according to new research to be presented during the North American Menopause Society annual meeting held September 25-28 in Chicago, Illinois.

Modifications include weight management, physical activity, nutrition, and alcohol consumption, among others. Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in women in the United States and around the globe. Numerous studies focused on breast cancer prevention have already been completed, many of which point to the same conclusion: lifestyle modifications offer the best and easiest form of prevention.

In 2018, The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research updated their breast cancer prevention recommendations categorized by menopause status, where possible. The recommendations included some of the more common modifiable elements of breast cancer risk with respect to exercise, diet, alcohol, and breast feeding. The collective recommendations were based on a number of proven facts, including:

  • For postmenopausal women there is a 1.5 to 2.0 times increased risk of breast cancer if a woman is obese.
  • Body fatness is suggested to increase cancer risk as a result of hyperinsulinemia, increased estradiol, and inflammation.
  • The Centers for Disease Control estimate that physical activity alone could prevent one in eight breast cancer cases.
  • Alcohol is a carcinogen attributable to 6.4% of breast cancer cases.
  • Any amount of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer and the more a woman drinks, the higher her risk of breast cancer.
  • The Cancer Update Project from 2017 observed a significant inverse relationship between non-starch vegetable consumption and a lower risk of breast cancer.

Juliana Kling, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona will be presenting the latest recommendations, as well as highlights of the studies behind them, at the upcoming NAMS Annual Meeting.

"Given the magnitude of breast cancer occurrence and the accumulated evidence supporting prevention as the most cost-effective, long-term strategy for reducing breast cancer risk,” Kling said, “lifestyle education centered on cancer prevention recommendations should be a core component of routine patient visits.”