Three Steps To Lower Breast Cancer Risk, New AICR Report

Cutting that daily glass of wine and stepping out for a walk are both steps that can lower your risk of breast cancer, according to AICR's major new report released last week. The report, in partnership with the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), is the most comprehenisve analysis of the global research on how diet, activity, and weight link to breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among US women. And while there are many factors that women cannot control, says Alice Bender, MS, RDN, AICR’s Head of Nutrition Programs, the good news from this report is that all women can take steps to lower their breast cancer risk. AICR estimates that one in three breast cancer cases in the U.S. could be prevented if women did not drink alcohol, were physically active and stayed a healthy weight.

“There are no guarantees when it comes to cancer, but it’s empowering to know you can do something to lower your risk.”

Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Breast Cancer evaluated the scientific research worldwide on how diet, weight and exercise affect breast cancer risk in the first such review since 2010. The report analyzed 119 studies, including data on 12 million women and 260,000 cases of breast cancer. Here are three take-aways the research shows on what women can do to reduce your risk.  

1. Take a brisk walk

The report 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.

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 similar lower risk when comparing the most versus least active women.

2. Limit your alcohol 

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. A standard drink is 14 grams of alcohol.

alcohol recommendation

3. Work to avoid weight gain 

The report found that: 

  • Being overweight or obese increases the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer, the most common type of breast cancer.
  • Greater adult weight gain increases risk of post-menopausal breast cancer.

AICR research shows that overweight and obesity increase risk for 11 cancers in total. In addition to post-menopausal breast cancer, excess body fat increases risk for ovarian, esophageal, colorectal, gallbladder, liver, endometrial, kidney, stomach cardia, pancreatic, and advanced prostate cancers.

If you want to join others in making healthy lifestyle changes for weight management, join AICR's online New American Plate Challenge

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