Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lifestyle Factors Increase Risk of Second Breast Cancer

As you may know, I'm concerned about the recurrence of breast cancer in my right breast. I've often referred to diet and lifestyle in this blog, wondering if there is a connection to cancer. I did discover information about recurrence and lifestyle. According to results published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking significantly increase the risk of second breast cancers among breast cancer survivors. Approximately 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the United States alone. Treatment for the disease has improved, and five-year survival rates are now greater than 90%; however, survivors have a significantly increased risk of developing a second breast cancer in the opposite breast. (I knew they should have removed the other one, too!)
Researchers conducted a study that involved 365 women who were diagnosed with an estrogen receptor-positive (ER-positive) first primary breast cancer and then later diagnosed with a second primary breast cancer. These women were were compared with 726 matched controls who were diagnosed with only an ER-positive primary breast cancer. The researchers reviewed medical records and conducted patient interviews to ascertain data on obesity, alcohol consumption, and smoking. The results indicated that women who were considered obese (body mass index [BMI] over 30 kg/m2) were 50% more likely to develop a second breast cancer than women who had a BMI lower that 25 kg/m2. Furthermore, women who consumed more than 7 drinks per week after their first breast cancer diagnosis had a 70% higher risk of developing a second breast cancer compared with nondrinkers. Finally, women who smoked were more than twice as likely to develop a second breast cancer compared with nonsmokers.
The researchers concluded that lifestyle factors such as obesity, smoking, and drinking could significantly increase the risk of developing a second cancer. Modifying these factors might provide breast cancer survivors with a way to reduce their risk of developing a second cancer. I used to be able to run a 5K and finish it and would like to get back to doing that again someday soon. This research makes me think that one of my goals should be to get back to the gym and get in shape in order to do so again. I don't smoke and I can do without alcohol so perhaps I can avoid that second breast cancer I'm so sure that I'll develop in the future!

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