Healthy habits prevent breast cancer: study

WASHINGTON Tue Sep 1, 2009 10:16am EDT

A doctor exams mammograms, a special type of X-ray of the breasts, which is used to detect tumours as part of a regular cancer prevention medical check-up at a clinic in Nice, south eastern France January 4, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

A doctor exams mammograms, a special type of X-ray of the breasts, which is used to detect tumours as part of a regular cancer prevention medical check-up at a clinic in Nice, south eastern France January 4, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nearly 40 percent of all breast cancer cases in the United States could be prevented if women kept a healthy weight, drank less alcohol, exercised more and breastfed their babies, according to a report published on Tuesday.

The report, which reviewed 81 new studies on the links between lifestyle and cancer, showed that 70,000 breast cancer cases could be prevented in the United States alone every year.

"We are now more certain than ever that by maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and limiting the amount of alcohol they drink, women can dramatically reduce their risk," Dr. Martin Wiseman of the American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund, who led the study, said in a statement.

"We estimate that almost 40 per cent of breast cancer cases in the United States, or about 70,000 cases every year, could be prevented by making these straightforward everyday changes," added the AICR's Susan Higginbotham.

The report, posted at www.dietandcancerreport.org/, recommends that people exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Men should limit alcohol to two drinks a day and women should have just one.

Breast cancer kills 400,000 women and a few men globally every year, and 40,000 in the United States alone.

Many studies have shown a low-fat diet, regular exercise, keeping a lean weight and breastfeeding babies can prevent breast cancer. However, a significant percentage of cases are caused by faulty genes and not linked to lifestyle.

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