Friday, July 22, 2011

The Breast Cancer News Update: July 22

There's been a lot of buzz about a recent study which found that tall women have a higher risk of breast cancer. According to the story in the Los Angeles Times, breast cancer risk increased 17% with every 4 inches in height. While this may be interesting, it's not really useful. Height is not a modifiable risk. Today we'll look at recent studies on modifiable risk factors such as diet, exercise, and alcohol use. All of the studies below can be found on the complementary therapy and lifestyle pages of the website.

Diet and breast cancer risk: soy, omega-3s and vitamins

Breast cancer research does not always have a positive ending. This month, two studies found that soy and omega-3 fatty acids do not reduce the hormones associated with breast cancer risk. Another study found that while vitamin A may reduce risk, vitamins C and E do not appear to have an effect.

Dietary soy does not modify estrogen levels

A July 8 study in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention examined the effect of dietary soy on blood and nipple aspirate fluid estrogen levels to assess impact on breast cancer risk. The authors concluded that soy in the amounts typically consumed by Asians did not significantly modify blood or nipple fluid estrogen levels. They did observe a non-significant trend towards lower estrogen levels in nipple fluid during the high-soy diet, which "counters concerns about adverse effects of soy foods on breast cancer risk."

Omega-3 fatty acids do not reduce hormones associated with risk

A July 11 study in Nutrition and Cancer found, contrary to expectations, that omega-3 fatty acids did not reduce the hormones associated with breast cancer risk.

Retinol and vitamin A may reduce breast cancer risk

A July 15 review in Cancer Causes & Control analysed the research on retinol, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E and breast cancer risk. The authors concluded that intake of retinol and vitamin A "could reduce breast cancer risk," but the association between vitamins C and E and risk "seem to be limited."

Lifetime exercise reduces precancerous benign breast disease

According to a July 12 study in Cancer Causes & Control, "exercise may be inversely associated with the risk of developing proliferative benign breast disease, one of the earliest steps in the development of breast cancer." The study followed over 40,000 women for four years. Women in the study reported on levels of physical activity during adolescence and adulthood. A significant inverse association was found between walking and the risk of benign breast disease.

Alcohol and breast cancer risk

This month there have been two stories on the use of alcohol and breast cancer risk.

First, a July 11 story in the Los Angeles Times reported that although government health agencies often publish recommended drinking limits, no amount of alcohol is safe in terms of breast cancer risk.

On July 19 and 20, BBC News and Cancer Research UK reported on a study which found that obesity has the greatest effect on the hormones associated with breast cancer risk, followed by alcohol use then smoking. Women who drank 2.5 units of alcohol a day had higher levels of all hormones. A large glass of wine is 3 units of alcohol.

Please check back Monday for highlights of the weekend breast cancer news. Until then, all the latest breast cancer news and research may be found on the treatment pages of the website.

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