Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women. A woman's chance of getting breast cancer is about one in eight. Although genes and heredity are a huge risk factor for developing the disease, new studies are highlighting the large role that lifestyle plays when it comes to breast cancer risk.
Figures from the International Agency on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization), estimate that 25 to 30 percent of breast cancer cases could be avoided if women were thinner and exercised more regularly. In a 2006 British study, obese women were up to 60% more likely to develop any cancer than normal-weight women. So we're starting to see that lifestyle changes (like wearing sunscreen, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and a healthy diet) can have a significant impact on a woman's risk of developing all different types of cancers.
According to the research, "Many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue. So experts suspect that the fatter a woman is, the more estrogen she's likely to produce, which could in turn fuel breast cancer. Even in slim women, experts believe exercise can help reduce the cancer risk by converting more fat into muscle."
The major risk factors for developing breast cancer are still age, family history and gender. Although these are out of a woman's control, it's important to make as big of an impact as possible on those things you can control- which would be lifestyle habits.
The American Cancer Society recommends 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week to reduce the risk of breast cancer. But the Cancer Society also points out that the risk appears to increase for women who gain weight as adults, but not for women who have been overweight since childhood. So it seems like future research will help further determine the link between lifestyle and cancer risk.
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