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In the news: Tall people, alcohol and the risk of developing breast cancer

James G BCC
Thursday, 21 July, 2011 - 15:50

Newspaper readers this morning will have seen a story that claimed that tall people are more at risk of developing cancer.

The reports were prompted by nine-year study of 97,000 women from the UK, the results of which were published in The Lancet Oncology.

Focussing on the results regarding breast cancer, the researchers stated that for every four inches in height, the risk of breast cancer rose by 17%. Reasons for this rise are unknown, but tall people have also been linked to lower incidences of other conditions, such as heart disease.

Although we don't know what the exact causes of breast cancer are, we do know that some things can increase or decrease the likelihood of getting breast cancer. These are called 'risk factors'. However, as we are all different, risk factors will not affect us all in the same way. One person may have many risk factors and not develop breast cancer, while another may have very few and be diagnosed with the disease.

Breast Cancer Care's Clinical Director, Dr Emma Pennery, commented on today's reports, saying:

'Anyone worried by this study should remember that female gender and increasing age are by far the biggest proven risk factors for developing breast cancer, with the majority of cases occurring in women aged over 50.

'Many risk factors for breast cancer are beyond people's control and it is vital that all women remain breast aware throughout their lives.

'If anyone is concerned about how lifestyle factors may increase their risk of breast cancer, they can call Breast Cancer Care’s helpline on 0808 800 6000.'

Articles on this study and its results appeared in the following newspapers. Follow the links below to read the reports.

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Next we move onto the Sun, which today featured an article highlighting the link between alcohol and breast cancer.

The piece included tips for women which the newspaper claimed could 'improve your chances of living longer', specifically cutting down on the consumption of red meat, having children before the age of 30, keeping active, losing weight, breastfeeding and drinking less alcohol.

Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care, Antonia Dean, wrote a 'MyView' column which appeared alongside the report. It's reproduced for our readers below.

'THERE is a growing body of evidence suggesting that keeping weight at a healthy level, exercising and reducing the amount of alcohol you drink could have an impact on breast cancer and your prognosis.

'But it is difficult with many of the studies to get reliable results so we do need further research to confirm these findings. We always suggest that people only drink the recommended daily amounts and avoid binge drinking.

'Sometimes people do everything they can to prevent breast cancer but there is nothing you can do to eliminate the risk entirely. It's important people don't feel to blame.

' The biggest lifestyle factors that we know have an impact is obesity and exercise so it's important to keep active and to try to maintain a healthy weight.

' For further advice and guidance call the Breast Cancer Care helpline on 0808 800 6000.'

Antonia Dean, Breast Cancer Care

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