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. â€œIf you want to find the environmental hormones in the environment,â€ he said, â€œlook in the milk!â€ 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 cancerâ€”another modifiable risk.
It is great that we are finally getting some guidance in these issuesâ€”and we have the wonderful women who have been taking part for decades in the Nurseâ€™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!