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Obesity is the Biggest Avoidable Cause of Breast Cancer in Women

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A new study claims that obesity is the biggest avoidable cause of breast cancer.

The researchers, based at Oxford university, looked at the levels of hormones known to trigger breast cancer in women. They found that obesity had a much bigger influence on these hormones than very heavy smoking or alcohol consumption.

On average, obese women had testosterone levels 16% higher than those of normal weight and oestrogen levels at 50% higher. Furthermore, they found that smoking 15 cigarettes a day and drinking two and a half units of alcohol a day increased some cancer triggering hormones.

Breast cancer most commonly affects post menopausal women between the ages of 50 and 70, but over the last 30 years rates of breast cancer have soared. Around 47 700 women are now diagnosed every year. Similarly, levels of obesity amongst women has soared so that now nearly a fifth of women are so overweight they risk health problems.

A woman’s chance of getting breast cancer also depends on other factors which include whether she has children, time of menopause, age and family history. Breast cancer has become the most common cancer in women, who have a one in eight chance of being diagnosed at some point.

Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, Dr Julie Sharp, said: ‘We know that the risk of the disease can be affected by family history and getting older, but there are also things women can do help reduce the risk of the disease. Maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing alcohol consumption are key to reducing breast cancer risk.’

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