Saturday, October 16, 2010

3 ways to reduce your breast cancer risk

Women who maintain certain "breast-healthy" habits can lower their risk of breast cancer, even if a close relative has had the disease, a new study finds.

Engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all, was shown in a large study to help protect against breast cancer in postmenopausal women, the researchers said.

"Whether or not you have a family history, the risk of breast cancer was lower for women engaged in these three sets of behavior compared to women who were not," said study leader Dr. Robert Gramling, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

The study was published online Oct. 12 in the journal Breast Cancer Research.

Gramling wanted to look at the effects of lifestyle habits on breast cancer risk because he suspects some women with a family history may believe their risk is out of their control.

He analyzed data on U.S. women aged 50 to 79 from the Women's Health Initiative study starting in 1993. During 5.4 years of follow-up, 1,997 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

Gramling excluded women with a personal history of breast cancer or with a family history of early-onset cancer (diagnosed before age 45), then observed the impact of the healthy habits.

Excluding those with an early-onset family history makes sense, because a stronger genetic (versus environmental) component is thought to play a role in early-onset, experts say.

Following all three habits reduced the risk of breast cancer for women with and without a late-onset family history. "For women who had a family history and adhered to all these behaviors, about six of every 1,000 women got breast cancer over a year's time," he said.

In comparison, about seven of every 1,000 women developed breast cancer each year if they had a late-onset family history and followed none of the behaviors.

Among women without a family history who followed all three habits, about 3.5 of every 1,000 were diagnosed with breast cancer annually, compared to about 4.6 per 1,000 per year for those without a family history who followed none of the habits.

For his study, Gramling considered regular physical activity to be 20 minutes of heart-rate raising exercise at least five times a week. Moderate alcohol intake was defined as fewer than seven drinks a week. A healthy body weight was defined in the standard way, having a body mass index, or BMI, of 18.5 to under 25.

Gramling hopes his research will reverse the thinking of women whose mother or sister had breast cancer who sometimes believe they are doomed to develop the disease, too.

The findings echo what other experts have known, said Dr. Susan Gapstur, vice president of the epidemiology research program at the American Cancer Society, who reviewed the study findings.

"The results of this study show that both women with a family history (late-onset) and without will benefit from maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, and consuming lower amounts of alcohol, limiting their alcohol consumption," she said.

The American Cancer Society guidelines for reducing breast cancer risk include limiting alcohol to no more than a drink a day, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in 45 to 60 minutes of "intentional physical activity" five or more days a week.

The risk reduction effects found in the Gramling study may actually increase if women follow the more intense exercise guidelines of the ACS, Gapstur said.

Personally, I think they should go further and recommend a healthy diet of plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and non-processed foods, but what do I know. Plus dark chocolate, of course!!

A study regarding reducing breast density

High breast density is one of the known risk factors for breast cancer. Raloxifene (brand name Evista) is a hormonal drug that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce breast cancer risk in high-risk postmenopausal women, as well as to reduce bone loss. Omega-3 fatty acid is a dietary supplement that the FDA has approved to treat elevated triglyceride levels in the blood.

Studies looking at Raloxifene alone have not shown a significant change in breast density. A research team at Penn State is interested in learning whether adding an omega-3 fatty acid might have an effect on breast density.

This study is for women WITHOUT a history of breast cancer. Researchers still need many more women to participate! If you are post-menopausal, do not have a history of breast cancer, and live near or are willing to travel to Hershey, Pennsylvania, or know someone who might be interested, please read on to learn how you can take part in a breast cancer prevention study!

If this study isn’t a good fit for you, please pass it on to someone you know! Forwarding our information to friends and family is just as important as participating in a study.

What's the study about?

The purpose of this study is to find out if combining Raloxifene with a dietary supplement called omega-3 fatty acid has an effect on breast density or urine and blood chemicals associated with breast cancer development.

What's involved?

If you express interest in the Raloxifene and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Study, you need to have your next mammogram at the Breast Care Center at the Hershey Medical Center. You will be given a health-screening questionnaire so that the researchers can be sure this study is a right fit for you. After that, your mammogram will be reviewed, and if your density is read as greater than 25%, you could be eligible to participate in the study. After you sign the informed consent,you will be asked to complete a diet history and exercise questionnaire. Then, approximately eight tablespoons of blood will be collected and you will be asked to collect your first morning urine for three consecutive days. Finally, you will be randomly assigned (like the flip of a coin) to either a group taking no treatment or to one of four other groups which include Raloxifene at 60 mg or 30 mg, or just omega-3 fatty acid or a combination of the lower dose of Raloxifene and omega-3 fatty acid. Over the course of the study, you will meet with the research team every six months for two years.

The researchers will discuss all study procedures, any possible risk factors, and answer all questions you may have.

Approximately 372 women will be enrolled in this study.

Who is conducting the study?

Andrea Manni, MD, at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA


Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA

Who can participate?

You can join the Raloxifene and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Study if you match ALL of these MAIN categories:

  • You are post-menopausal (at least 12 months without a menstrual cycle)
  • You have never had breast cancer
  • You have NOT been on hormone replacement therapy during the past 6 months
  • You have NOT taken Raloxifene during the past 6 months
  • You are a non-smoker (never smoked or smoke free for more than 5 years)
  • You are woman between the ages of 35 and 75
  • You live near or are willing to travel to the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA

For more information or to sign up, just follow the link!


Yes, Sign Me Up

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