Breast-healthy lifestyle worthwhile, URMC study confirms

October 12, 2010

Having a family history of breast cancer can lead some people to wonder if their risk is out of their control. However, a study of more than 85,000 postmenopausal women observed that regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and drinking less alcohol lowers breast cancer risk for women with, and without a family history of the disease.

The University of Rochester Medical Center study, published online Oct. 12, 2010, by the journal Breast Cancer Research, is good news for women who have a close relative with breast cancer and thus fear that no matter what they do, it won't matter, said lead author Robert E. Gramling, M.D., D.Sc., associate professor of Family Medicine, and Community and Preventive Medicine at URMC.

"It's important to note that a family history of breast cancer can arise in part due to shared unhealthy behaviors that have been passed down for generations," Gramling said. "Untangling the degree to which genes, environments, and behaviors contribute to the disease is difficult. But our study shows that engaging in a healthy lifestyle can help women, even when familial predisposition is involved."

Gramling analyzed data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study that began in 1993. The data included women ages 50 to 79, but excluded women with a personal history of breast cancer or with a close relative with early-onset (before age 45) breast cancer.

Researchers decided to exclude women in the latter group because they wanted to focus on whether the American Cancer Society recommendations on diet, exercise and alcohol consumption could plausibly influence disease rates. Women with relatives who were diagnosed prior to age 45 might have a more dominant genetic pattern so they were excluded, the study said.

The WHI-OS data divided women into two groups, those who had a family history of later-onset breast cancer (after age 45) and those who did not. Researchers further categorized the data, based on the degree to which women said they adhered to the ACS guidelines. "Complete adherence" equaled a minimum of 20 minutes of vigorous exercise at least five days a week, maintain a normal weight, and drink no more than one alcoholic beverage a day.

Finally, researchers looked at the cases of invasive breast cancer that arose during a mean follow-up period of 5.4 years. They assessed the relationship between rates of new invasive breast cancer cases, a family history of late-onset breast cancer, and whether either group was modified by the healthy lifestyle recommendations.

Among women with a family history who adhered to all three healthy behaviors, the rate of invasive breast cancer was 5.94 per 1,000 woman-years, compared with 6.97 per 1,000 woman-years among women who adhered to none of the behaviors, the study found.

Among women without a family history who adhered to all three healthy behaviors, the rate of invasive breast cancer was 3.51 per 1,000 woman-years compared to 4.67 per 1,000 woman-years for those who adhered to none.

The amount of risk reduced by adhering to the three health behaviors was the same for women with and without a family history.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in women, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer. About 15 percent of all postmenopausal women have a genetic predisposition to the disease.

Given the strong awareness of breast cancer and distress about inheritable risk, Gramling said, it is essential that scientists understand the actions women can take to reduce their risk.
-end-
The WHI program is supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

University of Rochester Medical Center

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.

Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.

Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.

Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.