A new breast cancer study says that even women who are genetically susceptible to breast cancer can greatly reduce their chances of catching the deadly disease by doing something exceptionally simple. In fact, women who are at the greatest risk of breast cancer can reduce their risks by following some simple guidelines.
The answers are simple, according to the new study conducted at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. Maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, not smoking and avoiding hormone therapy after menopause seem to be key factors in avoiding breast cancer.
If all of those guidelines were adhered to, experts say that close to 30 percent of breast cancer cases in the United States could be avoided. Furthermore, the greatest reduction in breast cancer acquisition would be among those women most susceptible to the disease, that being those with a gene variant or with a family history of breast cancer.
The study at Johns Hopkins zeroed in on 92 different gene variants – each of which could make a difference in an individual’s risk for contracting breast cancer. The results were definitive. Lifestyle choices were extremely important in terms of contracting breast cancer especially in those women who were predisposed to contracting the disease due to genetic factors.
In the breast cancer study at Johns Hopkins, scientists created a standard for predicting the likelihood of breast cancer in adult women based on genetic information and other factors such as family history and the age at which menstruation started. Additionally, the team looked at the onset of breast cancer based on lifestyle habits. When all of the factors were stacked atop one another, the team at Johns Hopkins determined that the average 30 year-old, white, American woman has an eleven percent chance of contracting breast cancer by the time she turns 80.
Further research determined that some women have a higher chance of contracting breast cancer because of factors that they simply cannot control, such as genetic issues. However, the breast cancer study also determined that lifestyle changes have much more to do with whether or not one contracts the disease than genetic issues do. In fact, the study concluded that women who are most susceptible to breast cancer could actually knock their chances of getting the disease down to normal risk levels encountered by any other woman simply by improving their lifestyle choices.
William Dupont, a co-author of the study published in the May 26th edition of JAMA Oncology, and a professor at Vanderbilt University of School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, commented on the study.
“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.”
The authors of the breast cancer study also posited that as the cost of genetic analysis decreases, in the near future, every woman will likely be able to be made aware whether or not they are at a high risk for contracting breast cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, just over 40,000 women died from breast cancer last year. However, as of January 1st, 2014, over 3.1 million women in the United States were living with breast cancer. A percentage of those women had gone into remission and were no longer exhibiting symptoms of the disease, but many of them were still living with disease and undergoing treatment.
Though breast cancer incidents seem to increase with age, especially in women over 80 years of age, those statistics may be a misnomer. The reason being that regular screening for breast cancer didn’t start until well past those who are now 80 and older should have received it.