Being the second-most leading cause of cancer related death among women, breast cancer affects many women and men alike across the globe. With 2012 seeing 1.7 million cases of the cancer being diagnosed (in the US alone, nearly 231,000 women were diagnosed) the cancer makes up 25 percent of all cancer diagnoses in women.
There are a number of reasons why breast cancer can develop. These include being older, having experienced early menarche, as well as having a family history of the cancer.
Despite there being little a woman can do to control these factors, a new report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) in collaboration with the World Cancer Research Fund has been analyzing these risks by honing in on how alcohol, weight and diet can affect the possibilities of a women developing breast cancer. The report states that 10 grams of alcohol per day (essentially the equivalent of a small glass of wine) can raise the risk of premenopausal breast cancer by 5 percent.
Developing postmenopausal cancer (the most common form of breast cancer) was, according to the report, raised by 9 percent if a small glass of alcohol was consumed each day. Coupled with the knowledge that a “standard” drink currently states that 14 grams constitutes one alcoholic beverage, this means that a person really should be consuming considerably less.
Weight was another factor targeted in the report. It looked at how being overweight, gaining weight throughout adulthood and/or being obese can contribute towards a person being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Exercising moderately was shown to decrease the risk of both possibilities of post and pre-menopausal cancer. Postmenopausal women who were the most active were 10 percent less likely to develop breast cancer when compared to their less active counterparts. With premenopausal women, this risk was lowered by 17 percent.
While not proved, the report also did show “limited evidence” that consuming non-starchy vegetables could also contribute to lowering the risk of breast cancer. These foods include spinach, kale, pumpkins, apricots, and carrots, and are known as carotenoids (pigments synthesized by plants that are often brightly colored).
AICR’s head of nutrition programs, Alice Bender, provided further comments on the findings of the report with respect to how women can try and lower their risk of such a diagnoses:
“Wherever you are with physical activity, try to nudge it up a bit, either a little longer or a little harder. Make simple food shifts to boost protection- substitute veggies like carrots, bell peppers, or green salad for chips and crackers and if you drink alcohol, stick to a single drink or less.”
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