New research adds to the growing body of knowledge about actions women can take to lower their breast cancer risk. The new report is an update of previous research, adding results of 81 new studies to the findings of more than 800 that have followed women in the United States and around the world to see who develops breast cancer and who doesn't.
The study provides good news for women in the form of steps they can take to protect themselves, such as:
Be as lean as possible without being underweight. A healthy body mass index is defined as being above 18.5 but no greater than 25. Women closer to the lower end of the healthy weight range have the most protection from breast cancer.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. If you can't do that, at least do some. Some activity is better than none, but the more, the better.
Limit alcohol consumption. If you drink at all, limit your intake to one serving a day.
Breast-feed. New mothers should breast-feed exclusively for up to six months -- the evidence is convincing that mothers who breast-feed reduce their risk for breast cancer.
Further, increased screenings may not be the best option for women, and men.
Separate studies suggest that some cancer tests can result in false positives. Two studies -- one looking at prostate cancer and the other at breast cancer -- show that increased screening brings false positives and the costs of emotional anguish and sometimes unnecessary treatment.
While the prostate cancer study and the breast cancer study looked at two different cancers in two different populations, both studies came to similar conclusions; a lot of patients are receiving unnecessary treatments.
In the breast cancer screening study, women were given a clinical breast exam in addition to mammography. For every additional cancer found there were 55 false positives. According to the prostate cancer study's authors, between the years 1986 and 2005, 1 million men were incorrectly diagnosed with prostate cancer. If health officials would simply recommend that you get some sensible sun exposure, use a safe tanning bed or supplement with oral vitamin D3 (like Oceans 3 by Garden Of Life) if you can’t get out into the sun, there could be major advances made in the fight against cancer.
In fact, a standard recommendation like that could potentially cut cancer rates in half! I can’t think of ANY other intervention that could possibly come close to that.
Vitamin D has a protective effect against cancer in several ways, including:
Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous
There is now overwhelming evidence pointing to the fact that many of the 560,000 cancer deaths expected to occur this year could have been safely prevented with optimal vitamin D levels.
One recent study also points out vitamin D’s potential in treating breast cancer; not just in preventing it. Researchers found that calcitrol (the active form of vitamin D) can induce a tumor-suppressing protein that inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells specifically.
U.S. News & World Report September 3, 2009
ABC News September 1, 2009