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Cutting Genetic Breast Cancer Risk

More Breast Cancer Research Needed on Prevention

Secrets of Teenage Lifestyle continued...

The study showed that those with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation had a 20% risk of breast cancer by age 40, a 55% risk by age 60, and more than 80% by age 80 -- an overall 82% risk of cancer in their lifetime, reports King.

But after factoring in exercise and body weight, researchers discovered that these two factors indeed delayed the age of onset of breast cancer in those with the inherited mutations. Those who were physically active developed breast cancer later than those who were physically inactive.

The study also showed that normal weight and lighter weight at age 21 was associated with an older age of breast cancer onset.

Those women who were physically active and kept a healthy weight as teenagers developed breast cancer later than other women, King reports.

Prevention Research Needed

This new breast cancer research adds another preventive measure to a growing list, which includes screening starting at an early age, prevention drugs such as tamoxifen, and risk-reducing surgeries of the breast, King says.

The findings apply to all women: Other breast cancer research has shown that exercise and healthy weight in early life are protective against breast cancer after menopause, she reports.

Indeed, a variety of factors such as dietary, reproductive, hormonal, and environmental factors likely influence the effect of these mutated genes on cancer risks. Extensive breast cancer research is needed on all these factors, writes Ephrat Levy-Lahad, with the Medical Genetics Unit at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in an accompanying editorial.

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