Breast Cancer not Inevitable for Women with Family History

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Findings from a large study show women with family history of breast cancer can reduce their risks with 3 simple lifestyle interventions. The news is good for women who may feel breast cancer is inevitable because of family genes.

Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center say there is much that can be done to lower breast cancer risk, even for those with a family history of the disease. The researchers studied 85,000 postmenopausal women to find that simple interventions that include limiting alcohol intake, engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining a normal weight can cut breast cancer risk for all women.

The findings are taken from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study that began in 1993.According to Robert E. Gramling, M.D., D.Sc., associate professor of Family Medicine, and Community and Preventive Medicine at URMC, "our study shows that engaging in a healthy lifestyle can help women, even when familial predisposition is involved."

Breast Cancer Occurs in Families from Unhealthy Behaviors


Gramling explains, "It's important to note that a family history of breast cancer can arise in part due to shared unhealthy behaviors that have been passed down for generations. Untangling the degree to which genes, environments, and behaviors contribute to the disease is difficult.

The study showed that women age 50 to 79 reduced their risk of breast cancer with exercise, limiting alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight, regardless of family history.

The findings are important for women who wish to take control and lower their chances of breast cancer.

Family history of the disease does not mean that women will inevitably get breast cancer. In the study, the three lifestyle interventions reduced the risk of cancer equally for women with or without hereditary risk factors.

Breast Cancer Research 2010, 12:R82 doi:10.1186/bcr2727


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the interventions listed should be common sense for good health period