Up to one-third of breast cancer cases in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more, according to experts at the European breast cancer conference in Barcelona.
It’s a sensitive topic because it feels like scientists are basically saying women are causing their own breast cancer. Like sun exposure to melanoma and smoking to lung cancer, researchers are saying heavier women have a greater chance of getting breast cancer. (Up to 60 percent greater chance in fact!)
“…Michelle Holmes, a cancer expert at Harvard University, said people might wrongly think their chances of getting cancer are more dependent on their genes than their lifestyle.”
“The genes have been there for thousands of years, but if cancer rates are changing in a lifetime, that doesn’t have much to do with genes,” she told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Cambridge, Massachusetts.”
“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. In Europe, there were about 421,000 new cases and nearly 90,000 deaths in 2008, the latest available figures. The United States last year saw more than 190,000 new cases and 40,000 deaths.”
“A woman’s lifetime chance of getting breast cancer is about one in eight. Obese women are up to 60 percent more likely to develop any cancer than normal-weight women, according to a 2006 study by British researchers.”
“Many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen, a hormone produced in fat tissue. So experts suspect that the fatter a woman is, the more estrogen she’s likely to produce, which could in turn spark breast cancer. Even in slim women, exercise can help reduce the cancer risk by converting more of the body’s fat into muscle.”
“…Tara Beaumont, a clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care, a British charity, said her agency has always been very careful about issuing similar lifestyle advice. She noted that three of the major risk factors for breast cancer — gender, age and family history — are clearly beyond anyone’s control.”
” ‘It is incredibly difficult to isolate specific factors, therefore women should in no way feel that they are responsible for developing breast cancer,’ she told the AP on Thursday.”
“Yet Karen Benn, a spokeswoman for Europa Donna, a patient-focused breast cancer group, said it was impossible to ignore the increasingly stronger links between lifestyle and breast cancer.”
“If we know there are healthier choices, we can’t not recommend them just because people might misinterpret the advice and feel guilty,” she said. “If we are going to prevent breast cancer, then this message needs to get out, particularly to younger women.”
OK so if we accept the premise that women need to eat better and lose weight to prevent cancer, here’s the kicker from another news story earlier in the week.
The story states that women, especially older women, must do moderate exercise for at least an hour a day before they will begin to lose any weight!
Their example in the story was a 60-year-old woman but even I see a difference in my metabolism from my first baby to my third baby. I’m having a much harder time taking off the weight with my third than with my first or second.
So they’re telling us we have to eat better and lose weight but our metabolisms aren’t exactly cooperating in this battle.
So what do you think: Is it fair to compare weight to smoking as far as causing cancer? Is it fair to say that women are in some cases causing their own breast cancer? Will this story make you change your ways to help prevent breast cancer? What to do you think of the corollary story that women need an HOUR a day of moderate exercise to begin to move weight without substantial cutbacks in foods?