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For Immediate Release: September 1, 2009

Preventing Breast Cancer: Largest-Ever Review Completed

For Immediate Release: September 1, 2009
Contact: Glen Weldon 202-328-7744 x312

Preventing Breast Cancer:
Largest-Ever Review Completed

WASHINGTON, DC –The largest review of research into lifestyle and breast cancer ever conducted has confirmed that women can reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, drinking less alcohol and breastfeeding their children.

The massive American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund (AICR/WCRF) project looked at the evidence on the links between breast cancer and diet, body weight and physical activity.

The new study is an update to the breast cancer chapter of Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, the expert report on cancer prevention published by AICR and WCRF in 2007. The conclusions on breast cancer in the 2007 report were based on data from 873 studies, while the newly updated review includes evidence from an additional 81 studies that have been published since then. The update will be published on the Expert Report website, www.dietandcancerreport.org.

Estimate: Over 70,000 US Breast Cancer Cases Preventable Every Year

“This study represents the clearest picture we have ever had on how lifestyle affects a woman’s risk of breast cancer,” said Professor Martin Wiseman, MD, Medical and Scientific Adviser for AICR and WCRF.

“We are now more certain than ever that by maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and limiting the amount of alcohol they drink, women can dramatically reduce their risk.”

“We estimate that almost 40 per cent of breast cancer cases in the US – or about 70,000 cases every year – could be prevented by making these straightforward everyday changes,” added AICR Director of Research Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD.

New Report Reinforces AICR Recommendations

  • Because of the link between excess body fat and cancer, AICR recommends aiming to be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
  • AICR also recommends being physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
  • If you drink at all, limit consumption to two drinks a day for a man and one for a woman.
  • AICR also recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for up to six months and then add other liquids and foods. Evidence is convincing that mothers who breastfeed reduce their risk for breast cancer. There is also probable evidence that children who are breastfed have a lower risk of gaining excess weight as they grow.

A Continuous Review of Recommendations

The report on breast cancer is part of the Continuous Update Project, a unique effort run by AICR and WCRF. The long-term goal is to continuously update the findings of the AICR/WCRF 2007 expert report so that cancer prevention advice is always based on the latest research.

Breast cancer is the first type of cancer the researchers have looked at as part of this update project, and they have now added started to review the evidence for colon cancer and prostate cancer, both of which are expected to finish early in 2010. The long-term aim is for the evidence on every type of cancer to be continually updated.

Empowering Individuals with the Latest Information

Marilyn Gentry, Chief Executive of AICR and WCRF, said, “As a cancer charity we believe people should have access to advice that’s based on the latest scientific research – that’s why we are so proud of our Continuous Update Project.

“When people read about new research, it’s hard for them to take the findings and put them in a meaningful context – to weigh new results against the research that has gone before. This project exists to help them do just that.

“The project is still in its early stages, but we are dedicated to providing people around the world with access to up-to-date advice about how they can make everyday changes that reduce their cancer risk. This is a vital part of the global fight against cancer.”


Notes to editors

  1. For more information on the Continuous Update project, visit http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/cu
  2. The AICR/WCRF report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, was launched in November 2007 and is the most comprehensive report ever published on the link between cancer and lifestyle. For more information, visit www.dietandcancerreport.org.


The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $95 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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