Healthy Lifestyle Could Reduce Risk Of Breast Cancer Despite Genes, According To Scientists

First Posted: May 30, 2016 05:30 AM EDT

Lifestyle is important for women who have high genetic risk of breast cancer. A new study suggests that despite being at risk, they can still cut the likelihood of the disease if they follow a healthy lifestyle.

Nilanjan Chatterjee, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore told, "Those genetic risks are not set in stone."

The key lifestyle factors, as listed by CBS News include a healthy weight, not smoking, alcohol limitation, and avoiding the use of hormone therapy after menopause. The research estimated that if all Caucasian women do those things, around 30 percent of the total number of breast cancer cases could be avoided.

Chatterjee and his team developed a model to predict the likelihood of a woman developing breast cancer, compiling genetic information and family history, age of the beginning of menstruation, and lifestyle. They estimated the effects of 68 gene variants which the women were not tested for.

Their findings, according to Fox News, showed that an average 30-year-old white woman has an 11 percent chance of developing breast cancer by the age of 80, however, those who follow healthier lifestyle factors have a more significant decrease in risk. "Lifestyle factors may be even more important for women at higher genetic risk than for those at low genetic risk," Chatterjee said.

The study did not include women with BRCA gene mutations. However, it did focus on 92 gene variants that are usually found in women. The resulys were then based on the over 40,000 subjects who tested positive for the 24 gene variants already linked to the increased risk of breast cancer.

"The bottom line is, this study provides evidence that, on a population level, a certain number of breast cancer cases would be prevented if women did these things," said co-author of the study, William Dupont of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

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