German cancer research scientists have found that approximately 30 percent of postmenopausal breast cancer cases may be preventable if a woman avoids hormone replacement therapy and gets enough exercise.
In Germany, 58,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. German scientists of the German Cancer Research Center, led by Associate Professor (PD) Dr. Karen Steindorf and Professor Dr. Jenny Chang-Claude, jointly with Professor Dr. Dieter Flesch-Janys of Hamburg Eppendorf University Hospitals, conducted a study of 3,074 patients who had been diagnosed with breast cancer after the onset of menopause, along with 6,386 female control subjects, aimed at isolating risk factors which can be influenced by changes in lifestyle and behavior.
On the basis of the data collected, the scientists calculated the percentage of cancer cases that were attributable to a particular risk factor (or a particular combination of several risk factors).
The study found that nearly 20 percent of the women in the study who developed breast cancer had undergone post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This was the largest percentage correlating with any of the risk factors studied. The next largest factor isolated was lack of exercise, with nearly 13 percent of diagnosed cancer cases correlating to a lack of physical activity. There was some overlap in the groups, however, combining the two results accounted for nearly 30 percent of all breast cancer cases in the study.
Other factors analyzed included obesity and alcohol consumption, but the correlations found were less significant than those found for hormone therapy and lack of exercise.
Researchers noted that other factors such as family history or age at first and last menstrual period account for 37.2 percent in total of all malignant postmenopausal breast cancers, however these factors are not modifiable by women. “That means that two factors which each woman has in her own hands are responsible for a similar number of postmenopausal breast cancer cases as the non-modifiable factors … If behavioral changes in these two areas could be brought about, almost 30 percent of breast cancers after menopause could be prevented,” said Study Author Karen Steindorf.
Therefore, the German researchers recommended that women exercise more and to refrain from hormone replacement therapy, unless it is absolutely necessary.
Researchers noted that these two largest correlating factors are largely within the control of women, giving hope that you may be able to decrease your risks of breast cancer significantly by avoiding hormone replacement therapy and exercising regularly and sufficiently.
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