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Just one drink a day increases breast cancer risk; Vigorous exercise decreases risk

breast cancerDrinking just one glass of wine or other alcoholic drink a day increases breast cancer risk, according to a new study released by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).

The report also revealed, for the first time, that vigorous exercise such as running or fast bicycling decreases the risk of both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. Strong evidence confirmed an earlier finding that moderate exercise decreases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer.

“Having a physically active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and limiting alcohol — these are all steps women can take to lower their risk,” said Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, a lead author of the report and cancer prevention expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Brisk Walking, Alcohol and Breastfeeding

The report found strong evidence that drinking the equivalent of a small glass of wine or beer a day (about 10 grams alcohol content) increases pre-menopausal breast cancer risk by 5 percent and post-menopausal breast cancer risk by 9 percent. For comparison, a standard drink is 14 grams of alcohol.

“We’re not telling everybody to abstain,” McTiernan told CBS News. “We’re not saying anything other than small amounts do increase the risk for breast cancer.”

For vigorous exercise, pre-menopausal women who were the most active had a 17 percent lower risk and post-menopausal women had a 10 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who were the least active. Total moderate activity, such as walking and gardening, linked to a 13 percent lower risk when comparing the most versus least active women.

Emerging Findings: Dairy and Veggies

The report points to links between diet and breast cancer risk. There was some evidence — although limited — that non-starchy vegetables lowers risk for estrogen-receptor (ER) negative breast cancers, a less common but more challenging to treat type of tumor.

Limited evidence also links dairy, diets high in calcium and foods containing carotenoids to lowering risk of some breast cancers. Examples of foods high in carotenoids include carrots, apricots, spinach and kale.

“The findings indicate that women may get some benefit from including more non-starchy vegetables with high variety, including foods that contain carotenoids,” said McTiernan. “That can also help avoid the common 1 to 2 pounds women are gaining every year, which is key for lowering cancer risk.”

(h/t: PND wire services)

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