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Healthy Lifestyle Might Reduce Breast Cancer Mortality

Posted Nov 05 2009 12:00am
New research conducted in Norway suggests that physical activity and metabolic characteristics (body mass index, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol levels) can impact a breast cancer patient's chances for survival. 

In this population-based survival study of over 1,300 breast cancer patients, measurements of body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and cholesterol levels as well as physical activity were analyzed in relation to the risk of dying.  The following findings were reported: 
  • Women with a BMI of 30 or higher (obese) were at a 1.47-fold greater risk of dying compared to women with a healthy BMI.
  • For women with a healthy BMI and at least 55 years of age when diagnosed with breast cancer, regular physical activity reduced the risk of dying by 66% compared to women who did not exercise.
  • Breast cancer patients with higher levels (among the highest third) of blood cholesterol were at a 29% greater risk of dying compared to women with the lowest blood cholesterol levels (lowest third).
  • Having a higher blood pressure increased the risk of breast cancer patients dying by 41% compared to having a lower blood pressure.
It is well understood that being overweight or obese substantially increases breast cancer risk.  These new data not only support that relationship, but expand upon it.  Body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and physical activity levels are all considered markers of healthy living by many health care professionals.  Individuals that lead a less than healthy lifestyle can often have issues with being overweight, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels, putting them at risk for several chronic health conditions, including breast cancer.  This new study suggests that these characteristics also decrease a breast cancer patient's chance of survival dramatically. 

While it is never too late for anyone (breast cancer patient or otherwise) to start living a healthier lifestyle, it is always better to start sooner rather than later.  To learn more about lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your breast cancer risk, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at
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