Leading researchers are saying that even women with genes linked to breast cancer can try to deter it by living a healthy lifestyle. Researchers found that women with a high genetic risk of breast cancer were deeply affected by their lifestyle as well.
A research team at Johns Hopkins came out with a new study about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent breast cancer. The leading researcher on the study, Nilanjan Chatterjee, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, “Those genetic risks are not set in stone.”
Which lifestyle factors were the most important?
There were four factors that were extremely important: maintaining a healthy weight; not smoking; limiting alcohol; and not using hormone therapy after menopause.
Experts found that if women followed these four factors then they could decrease their risk of getting breast cancer by 30 percent. They also surprisingly found that most of the deterred cancer cases would be amongst women with a genetic predisposition and family history to the cancer (but the study did not include women with the BRCA gene). The study focused on 92 gene variants with a predisposition to the cancer.
Chatterjee told CBS news, “Lifestyle factors may be even more important for women at higher genetic risk than for those at low genetic risk.” The recent findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology journal.
How was the study conducted?
Chatterjee's group created a model for predicting a woman's threat of breast cancer, using that genetic information plus other relevant factors. Those other factors included ones that cannot be altered in any way; this includes things like family history of breast cancer and the age menstruation started, in conjunction with lifestyle habits.
What did the study find?
In general the study shows that the average 30-year-old white woman has an 11 percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 80. The study found that even for women who would face higher odds because of their genes, lifestyle habits made the biggest difference in breast cancer prevention.
The study showed that even women with the greatest risks (the top 10 percent) ‘could get their breast cancer odds down to average by maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and drinking, and not using hormone therapy’.
William Dupont, a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, said, “The bottom line is, this study provides evidence that, on a population level, a certain number of breast cancer cases would be prevented if women did these things.”