Healthy Living: Doctors say exercise and diet can reduce risk of breast cancer

October is breast cancer awareness month which is why you may be seeing a lot more pink right now.

It's estimated one in eight women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.  Which is why it's important to know the facts, talk about early detection and look for ways to reduce the risks.

Dr. Anne McTiernan, a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center  says studies show moderate exercise can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.

"Exercise can affect the biology in the body that can reduce risk.  It can help lower body fat and we know people who have excessive amounts of body fat can have increased risk for breast cancer" McTiernan said.  "Exercise can affect inflammation, it can affect insulin.  There are lots of different things that can promote cancers that exercise might help dampen or prevent."

Dr. McTiernan recommends regular, moderate exercise, adding the best exercise is something you will enjoy doing.  Moderate means 30 minutes, 5 days a week.

In addition to exercise reducing cancer risk, Dr. McTiernan says diet is also important.

"People who are overweight or obese have increased risk," McTiernan said. "We suggest people eat a diet that can help keep their calories down and keep their weight down."

Research has also shown alcohol can increase risk for breast cancer.  McTiernan says even as little as one drink a day on average can increase the risk.  She says someone who is at increased risk or worried might want to consider reducing the amount of alcohol they consume.

When it comes to prevention, Dr. McTiernan says some medications can reduce a woman's risk for developing breast cancer by blocking estrogen.   She says Tamoxifen has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in half.  Other drugs known as aromastase inhibitors like Exemastane can also reduce risk of breast cancer by half.  She says women should talk to their doctors or a breast cancer specialist to learn more.

 

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