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Avoiding obesity more effective in fighting breast cancer than wearing pink?

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In October - National Breast Cancer Awareness month, many people nationwide in the United States wear something pink to show their support for survivors, and help raise awareness of the disease, which is diagnosed in more than 175,000 women and kills 50,000 each year in the country.

The campaign has been around for 25 years and AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation says on its website "the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month” organization is a partnership of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to screening services."

The website provides lots of information about breast cancer regarding early diagnosis and treatment.  Unfortunately, there is virtually no information about prevention.

We would remind our readers and those who are actively involved in the campaign that wearing pink can help raise awareness and encourage women to receive breast cancer screening, but it does little to prevent the disease in the first place.  

It is important to remember that breast cancer in many cases is a preventable disease; following a healthy diet and lifestyle can reduce risk of breast cancer drastically, as numerous studies have suggested. 

Most recently, we have reported that a low-fat diet, in tandem with a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids and low intake of an omega-6 fatty acid, and sufficient serum vitamin D may all help prevent breast cancer. Below are a couple of recent studies suggesting that avoiding overweight and obesity might also help.

Overweight and obesity raises risk of contralateral breast cancer

A recent study suggests that being overweight or obese may increase risk of contralateral breast cancer in breast cancer survivors.  Early studies have linked excess body weight with an increased risk of the disease.  Additionally, breast cancer survivors are at a greater risk of developing second cancers.

The study led by Majed B. and colleagues from Curie Institute in Paris, France shows that after a 10-year follow-up, women who were overweight or obese were 50 percent more likely than those with a normal body weight to acquire contralateral breast cancer.

Overweight is defined as having a body mass index of higher than 25 kg/m2 but lower than 30 kg/m.  Obesity is defined as having a BMI of higher than 30 kg/m. In the current study, BMI for a survivor was measured at the time of diagnosis.

The study included 15,000 patients and incidence of contra-lateral breast cancer was found at 8.8 per 1000 person-years. The risk for the second cancer increased during the follow-up, the researchers found.

The researchers also found overweight breast cancer survivors had a poorer prognosis following contralaterial breast cancer events.

The study was published in the Sep 26, 2010 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

Another, study also published in the same journal on Aug 21 2010, found that overweight and weight gain increased postmenopausal breast cancer risk in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers.

For the study, Manders P. and colleagues from Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, The Netherlands analyzed data collected from 719 BRCA1/2 carriers, of whom 218 were diagnosed with breast cancer within 10 years prior to the survey.

Compared to a current body weight of less than 72 kilograms, a current body weight of higher than 72 kilograms increased the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer by 100 percent, Maders P et al reported.  

Those who were overweight, gained 5 kg or more body weight, and 20 percent or more body weight were 46 percent, 56 percent and 60 percent more likely to develop postmenopausal breast cancer, respectively compared to those having a healthy or stable weight.  But the associations were deemed statistically insignificant.

In any case, being overweight or obese can be an independent risk factor for breast cancer and other malignancies as many studies suggest, even though the precursors leading to obesity, such as inadequate diet and physical inactivit, are more important risk factors for the disease.

In the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, readers need to know they can do more than wearing pink to fight or even prevent breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society says there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, but women can do something to reduce their risk of breast cancer.  Unfortunately, the majority of their suggestions or advice is regarding the use of diagnostic tools, drugs and surgeries.

Using diagnostic tools to detect breast cancer early or using chemopreventive drugs or surgeries may not be the only things women can do to reduce the risk; in poor countries, women do not have access to such diagnostic tools as mammogram screening and genetic testing, chemopreventive drugs like Tamoxifen, Raloxifene, aromatase inhibitors, and other drugs, and preventive surgeries like prophylactic mastectomy and oophorectomy – however, they are at much lower risk for the disease.

By David Liu and editing by Rachel Stockton

(Send your news to foodconsumer.org@gmail.com, Foodconsumer.org is part of the Infoplus.com ™ news and information network)

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (17 posted):

Biqui on 10/02/2010 14:48:24
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That's a pretty smarmy headline there, bro.....
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PCL on 10/02/2010 15:14:34
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I don't have a problem with the headline. I've always been a little wary of campaigns that push to concentrate on one form of cancer over all others. One would expect a given cure or prevention to apply to more than one cancer type, so the research efforts should not focus on breast cancer just because it happens to be the "disease of the hour". The pinks-label campaigns seem to be more for advertising than anything else; it makes sense that AstraZeneca would be more interested in lucrative drugs and treatments than prevention.
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Lisa on 10/02/2010 15:28:54
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Obesity may be one risk factor. One factor that has been hushed up although there have been serious, validated medical status with have verified this is it's link to abortion. A relative of mine died of an aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 45. It turns out that she'd had 3 abortions in her lifetime and that each abortion carries with it an incresed risk of 30% of getting the disease.
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kate on 10/02/2010 15:34:25
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It should be pretty obvious that obesity leads to so many more health problems. If we could knock that issue out, then we would be a much healthier country. If you are tired of trying fad diets that don't work check out www.diet-myths.com
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AnnaMarie on 10/02/2010 15:51:11
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Diabetes AND OBESITY is caused by food chemicals. THIS HAS BEEN PROVEN

The food for the last 30 years has drugs and chemicals that make BILLION$$$ for the drug makers and destroy the peoples gut(insulin)

The Diabetes drug makers took in 50 billion$$ in one year! While give drugs that destroy the heart muscle


A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes AND obesity in now 10 countries WITHOUT medications and the drug makers do not promote the story http://spirithappy.worpress.com

or just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET
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FatMatrix on 10/02/2010 16:27:02
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America and Americans will remain FAT forever; there is nothing, anyone can do about it. We don't realize how deep this rabbit hole goes!
If by miracle we Americans will normalize out national Weight, our economy will collapse. That will open the gate for the socialistic revolution. That is only one of the reasons why we are destine to remain forever FAT, FAT, FAT
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Ted Tomas on 10/02/2010 17:14:18
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Agree on obesity issue, just attending my sons first kindergarten school lunch day where parents bring a sack lunch for their child and themselves. of the 60 parent 55 brought mcdonalds for their kids and themselves, some parents brought panera breach, subway but I made lunch and could not believe how parents dont see that giving them mcdonalds so they get a fancy box and toy is not good for them.
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Kevin on 10/02/2010 17:21:01
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Lisa, anecdotes are not facts.

"In February 2003, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) convened a workshop of over 100 of the world’s leading experts who study pregnancy and breast cancer risk. Workshop participants reviewed existing population-based, clinical, and animal studies on the relationship between pregnancy and breast cancer risk, including studies of induced and spontaneous abortions. They concluded that having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer. A summary of their findings, titled Summary Report: Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop, can be found at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/ere-workshop-report."

From http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/risk/abortion-miscarriage
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Viktor Petrov on 10/02/2010 18:09:23
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In Russia we don't have problems with overweight because there is nothing to it! All the crops've been burnt and now we are starving!!! Please HELP US! My children 've not been eating for 3 days. I know you Americans are generous. If you have heart please send a little money to this adress:??????, ????, ??.???????? ?????? ?.25, ??.42, ?????? ??????
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Viktor Petrov on 10/02/2010 18:28:50
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It was a joke above I'm sorry
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HG on 10/02/2010 19:14:49
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Read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, although sugar might also be a big problem, for this try
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM
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grandma4 on 10/02/2010 19:42:55
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It's so easy to criticize when you are not a victim. As a 10 year breast cancer survivor, I find none of your comments constructive in finding a disease that strikes 1 out of of 7 women.Men, too, are affected, but since more women get bc that men, the funding has to come from some unbiased group who are not male. Wearing pink ribbon calls attention to the need for preventive care and raises money for a disease that strikes I was not an obese person when I got Adenocarcinoma and had a lumpectomy. It's really unbelievable how people can judge what someone did wrong to get a disease. I felt very guilty about getting cancer and I thought it was something I did. But I was assured by oncologists that the cause of my cancer was environmental. Until you've had any disease you won't know how devastating it is and people who are ignorant and read a little about cancer think they know it all and judge what we could have avoided to not contract cancer. I never thought it would happen to me. Oh, and your jokes are infantile. Quit judging and instead of spewing know it all comments and blame, help the cause. You never know if you or your mother or sister or roommate or father could be the next bc victim.No history of the disease is necessary. it just happens.
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Schmutti4 on 10/02/2010 20:12:09
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I keep hearing that obesity is a major factor in developping breast cancer. I have breast cancer and I'm not overweight. I eat well, excercise, get enough sleep, etc. and I still developed breast cancer. I feel as though someone wants us to take the blame for a disease we didn't ask for and wouldn't want anyone else to have to live through! As I look around the waiting room before radiation, I see mostly normal weight women with maybe a few who could stand to lose 20 to 30 pounds. I have yet to see one woman waiting for chemo or radiaiton who is overweight. Please stop writing articles that make it sound as though cancer is preventable all the time. I agree with doing everything we can to stay healthy. Sometimes that's just not enough....and that's OK. We live in a world where people get sick; let's not add a guilt trip on top of the already heavy load! Thank you for listening....
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Terry Williams on 10/02/2010 20:16:12
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I totally agree with grandma4, I'm 45 years old and a breast cancer survivor of 2 years now. I had a double mastectomy and breast cancer runs in my family but we do not have the gene. Oh and by the way my breast cancer was caused by excessive hormones my body produced, not obesity or abortion, etc. etc. It can be caused by many things.
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flash gallery on 10/11/2010 12:15:53
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Obesity is a big problem everywhere, some people even knowing that it leads to many health problems, are not at all worried about it.
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Harley Accessories on 10/18/2010 09:30:46
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Now a days obesity and overweight are a big problem all around the world. According to me one should strictly avoid the stuff which is responsible for this, to have a better health.
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breast augmentation on 10/27/2010 09:19:55
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Supporting a noble cause is a very good thing, but working towards its prevention is even better. I think that it would be of a very good use to have the knowledge and the understanding about the problems arising due to obesity.
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