At the American Association for Cancer Research meeting I have heard several sessions on the relationship between diet and breast cancer. What has come through loud and clear is that the three biggest factors for postmenopausal cancer are body weight, physical activity, and HRT.

We want it to be plastic bottles that were kept in sun, or something equally simple, but it is really our own activities that make the biggest difference. If you lose weight and keep it off you will decrease your breast cancer risk by 60%. In fact, it appears that if all women were to engage in regular physical activity and maintain their weight at a healthy level, we would decrease the incidence of breast cancer by 30% and the deaths from postmenopausal breast cancer by 50%!

One research group presented data showing that alcohol increases breast cancer, except if you have adequate folate levels, which confirms previous findings.

A study led by Dr. Walter Willett, at the Harvard School of Public Health, suggested there might also be a link between breast cancer and high dairy intake. “If you want to find the environmental hormones in the environment,” he said, “look in the milk!” These studies are ongoing, but they opened my eyes to another modifiable risk. Dr. Willett also showed data suggesting that high meat intake in adolescents may be a risk factor for premenopausal breast cancer—another modifiable risk.

It is great that we are finally getting some guidance in these issues—and we have the wonderful women who have been taking part for decades in the Nurse’s Health Study to thank. I hope that the Love/Avon Army of Women will take the next step to find the cause of breast cancer and eradicate it once and for all!

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3 Responses to Lifestyle and Breast Cancer: Preventing Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Is in Our Hands!

  1. Margie Cadelago says:

    Thank you. Most helpful to read these findings.

  2. Having worked professionally as a social worker and researched in the psychology field, I concur that high milk and meat intake increase the risk of cancer in general. However, my concern is women like myself (in their forties without children) whom want to consider having children, what is the impact?

  3. thanks for an amazing post!

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