Breast cancer thoughts on the Angelina Jolie story – Part 3
Diet plays a major part in breast cancer risk
MEDLINE and EMBASE case-control and cohort study meta-analyses were assessed to pool the results of many diet and breast cancer studies(1). The researchers found: “Evidence of a decrease in the risk of breast cancer in the highest compared with the lowest categories of prudent/healthy dietary patterns in all studies”.
What the above study told us is that all the people following the healthiest plant-based wholefood diets had lower breast cancer risk than those following the typical modern diet of meat, sugar and processed foods.
What do the world experts on cancer say about genetic risk?
“Only 5% to 10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, while the remaining 90% to 95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle… cancer is a disease commonly believed to be preventable”
Study published in Pharmaceutical Research (2008).
“For women who consumed high levels of high-fat dairy, they had an elevated risk of breast cancer death and death from all causes, as well as non-breast cancer-related deaths. For the non-breast cancer-related deaths, the women died primarily of cardiovascular disease. Women with breast cancer can reduce their dairy intake, or people can shift to more plant-based milks. Those are some of the recommendations”
Dr. Candyce Kroenke, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, 2013.
“There is an increase in rates in younger women and it’s for a number of reasons. We know that women’s lifestyles are changing and being overweight and drinking a lot of alcohol is linked to breast cancer risk”
Dr Kat Arney, a senior science manager at Cancer Research UK.
“Breast cancer risk could be decreased by up to 38% through lifestyle factors including maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. In fact, less than 10% of breast cancer appears to have a genetic basis. For prevention of breast cancer, limiting alcohol is one of the most important things that you can do. In addition, a plant-based diet loaded with at least two cups a day of a variety of produce is beneficial”
Sally Scroggs, MS, RD, LD and Clare McKinley, RD, LD, at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, one of the leading cancer hospitals in the world.
“The association between alcohol and breast cancer has been shown over and over and has been known for many years…”
Karin Michels, ScD, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health.
“A significant increase in the risk of breast cancer is already present at one drink per day”
Summary of 133 studies covering 121,000 breast cancer cases.
“The vast majority of women don’t have the BRCA1 mutation. They are at average risk for breast cancer... They should not have a preventive mastectomy”
H. Gilbert Welch, a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.
“Any amount of drinking increases breast cancer”
Dr. James Garbutt, University of North Carolina.
“Only about 5% to 10% of breast cancers that are diagnosed are caused by BRCA mutations; the majority are caused by other factors”
Dr Daniel Hayes, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“What I hope that people realize is that we really don’t have good [medical] prevention for breast cancer. When you have to cut off normal body parts to prevent a disease, that’s really pretty barbaric when you think about it”
Dr. Susan Love, breast surgeon.
“…some women tend to ignore lifestyle choices that reduce their risk of breast cancer. Having three alcoholic drinks a week increases the risk of breast cancer”
Dr. Jayne Charlamb of the Breast Cancer High Risk Program at Upstate Medical University Hospital.
“From a cancer-prevention point of view it is best not to drink at all”
Dr. Rachel Thompson, Science Programme, WCRF.
“Doctors used to throw the same toxic cocktail at every woman with breast cancer. Now we know that treatments need to be personalized so they have a greater chance of curing their cancer or turning it into a manageable disease”
Myra Biblowit, President of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
A 2012 British Medical Journal (BMJ) study found that women under 30 with faulty BRCA genes are more likely to develop breast cancer if they’re have chest X-rays. Cancer Research UK said at the time “Any exposure before age 20 seemed to raise the risk by 62%”. Britain, the Netherlands and Spain have already altered their screening recommendations for women under 30 with BRCA mutations, advising them away from radiation-emitting mammograms, and towards MRIs (which do not emit ionizing radiation).
I will leave the final word of this blog to Karen Benn, a spokeswoman for Europa Donna, a patient-focused breast cancer group: “If we know there are healthier choices, we can’t not recommend them just because people might misinterpret the advice and feel guilty. If we are going to prevent breast cancer, then this message needs to get out, particularly to younger women”.
References: Study “Dietary patterns and breast cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis” by Brennan SF, Cantwell MM, Cardwell CR, Velentzis LS, Woodside JV, from The Nutrition and Metabolism Group, Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, United Kingdom. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 May;91(5):1294-302. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28796. Epub 2010 Mar 10.