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Breast Cancer Risk Factors in Chinese Women

Posted Mar 11 2010 6:50am
Rates of breast cancer incidence in China are substantially lower than rates seen in Western countries like the United States.  However, modernization in regards to diet and lifestyle appears to have resulted in an increase in breast cancer incidence in Eastern countries like China.  These changes appear to be leading to an increase in the proportion of overweight adults, adoption of a more Western diet, and a decrease in physical activity.  A new population-based study was conducted to examine some of the breast cancer risk factors in Chinese women.

In this new study, which is free to download from the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention (vol 10, pg 877), breast cancer researchers examined 669 breast cancer patients and 682 healthy controls and asked them to complete a detailed lifestyle questionnaire.  Breast cancer risk was determined by their responses and physical examinations.  Some of the results are discussed below.

Body Size - overweight women (body mass index > 25) were 1.48 times more likely to develop breast cancer.

Occupational Work - women that reported having a moderate level of physical activity associated with their jobs were had about a 40% reduction in breast cancer risk.  Interestingly, heavy physical labor at work showed a similar breast cancer risk compared to women with no physical activity at work.

Recreational Physical Activity - Exercising more than once per week was associated with about a 30 - 40% reduction in breast cancer risk.  However, the benefits of physical activity appeared to be greatest for women who exercised between 30 - 60 minutes each time they exercised.  Women exercising for more than 60 minutes per time actually showed a slight increase in breast cancer risk.  Similar results were seen when physical activity was examined on a weekly basis.  Exercising between 60 - 180 minutes substantially reduced breast cancer risk, while exercising more than 180 minutes in this population of women had no benefit compared to women exercising less than 60 minutes per week.

Sleep Duration - This study reported that sleep duration had a significant impact on breast cancer risk.  Compared to women sleeping less than 5 hours per night, women who slept between 5 - 8 hours per night were at a 50 - 70% reduced breast cancer risk.

Standing or Walking Around - Women in this study who reported spending more than 1 hour per day either standing or walking around were at a decreased risk of breast cancer.  Standing or walking around for 3 hours per day was associated with the greatest breast cancer risk reduction (about 70%).

While some of these results are what we would expect in terms of lifestyle habits and breast cancer risk (increased exercise and a healthy body weight reduce breast cancer risk), there is some additional, interesting information provided in this study.  For example, simply standing or walking around reduced breast cancer risk in this population of Chinese women.  This is an easy lifestyle habit one can adopt.  When talking on the phone, don't sit down; instead get up and walk around.  Don't necessarily try to save trips when doing household chores; making several trips might be healthier.  Getting enough sleep appears to be another possible way to easily reduce one's breast cancer risk.  Other studies have reported similar results .  While the duration of recommended sleep seems to vary from study to study, getting between 6 - 7 hours per night seems to substantially reduce breast cancer risk.  Research continues to show that by adopting some simple lifestyle habits, we can improve our overall health and reduce breast cancer risk.

To learn more about other diet and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your personal breast cancer risk, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at www.fightBCnow.com .
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