18,000 women a year could be saved from breast cancer if they change their lifestyle
Scientists have found the strongest evidence yet that lifestyle is linked to the risk of developing breast cancer.
The biggest review of research into the disease has shown that more than four out of ten cases could be prevented if women exercised, limited their alcohol intake and maintained a healthy weight.
Breastfeeding also helps to reduce the risk of developing the disease, which kills 12,000 women in Britain each year.
The study by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) is an update on its cancer prevention report published in 2007. That report drew on 873 breast cancer studies. Now scientists at Imperial College London have added a further 81 studies carried out in the past few years.
The charity recommends that men and women aim to keep as lean as possible without becoming underweight. A healthy body mass index is between 18 and 25, but it recommends that people should try to remain close to the lower end of the scale, take at least 30 minutes of exercise a day and that alcohol be limited to two drinks a day for men and one for women.
Arlene Wilkie, director of research and policy at Breast Cancer Campaign, said: ‘This review provides further evidence that maintaining a healthy weight throughout life along with regular exercise will reduce the risk of health problems such as breast cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis.’