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Friday, 9 March, 2001, 01:12 GMT
Lifestyle affects breast cancer rates
breast scanner
Lifestyle changes could cut breast cancer rates
Eating less and exercising more can help lower the risks of breast cancer, scientists found.

Polish researchers found a link between breast cancer and nutrition.

They studied women from industrialised and developing countries and found that those from countries where the food supply was unlimited have more risk of breast cancer.

Grazyna Jasienska, assistant professor at the Institute of Public Health, in Krakow, found that calorie intake could affect concentrations of the ovarian hormones oestrogen and progesterone.

While a healthy diet and physical exercise may contribute to overall health, more studies are needed to clearly establish their role in reducing the risk of breast cancer

A spokeswoman from Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Low energy intakes have been found to impair ovarian functions.

In the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Professor Jasienska said that women making lifestyle changes were less at risk.

Hormone levels

She said: "An increase in physical activity and a decrease in calories, may thus lead to lower concentration of progesterone and oestrogen resulting in a reduction in breast cancer risk."

Professor Jasienska and her team analysed the hormone levels in saliva samples taken from women from Bolivia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nepal, Poland and the USA.

They discovered the higher concentrations of progesterone during certain points of the menstrual cycle were linked to an increased risk of developing the disease.

Women who had a 70% or more increase of the hormone were found to have an eight-fold rise in the rate of the disease.

But experts said they want more research on the links.

More research

Annie Angle, senior information nurse at the Cancer Research Campaign, said there were medical causes to be considered, such as how early someone started their periods and at what age they had children.

"The research is welcome, but there are issues that we are more concerned about.

"This is not breakthrough research, we have always been suspicious of a link. We need more research before we can definitely say it was a cause.

A spokeswoman for the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer said: "The report shows an interesting correlation but also highlights the need for large and high-powered clinical trials.

"While a healthy diet and physical exercise may contribute to overall health, more studies are needed to clearly establish their role in reducing the risk of breast cancer."

More than 30,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and 13,000 die from the disease.

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