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Genetic Breast Cancer Risk Can Be Mediated by Healthy Lifestyle

Key lifestyle factors include maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, no HRT

THURSDAY, May 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Women who carry common gene variants linked to breast cancer can still reduce risk of the disease by following a healthy lifestyle, according to research published online May 26 in JAMA Oncology.

The results were based on records from 42,912 women tested for 24 gene variants previously linked to breast cancer risk. The researchers created a model for predicting a woman’s risk of breast cancer, using that genetic information plus other factors. Those other factors included ones that can’t be changed, such as age and genetics, as well as modifiable lifestyle habits. The researchers then estimated the effects of 68 other gene variations that the women weren’t tested for.

The researchers found that four lifestyle factors were key: maintaining a healthy weight; not smoking; limiting alcohol; and not using hormone therapy after menopause. The team estimated that if all white U.S. women did those things, 28.9 percent of breast cancer cases could be avoided. And a majority of those averted cancers would be among women at increased risk because of family history and the gene variants they carry.

“Lifestyle factors may be even more important for women at higher genetic risk than for those at low genetic risk,” senior researcher Nilanjan Chatterjee, Ph.D., a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told HealthDay.

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