A new study has revealed a breast cancer risk model related to lifestyle changes, that could lead to a reduction in the risk of developing the lethal disease.
The new model estimates the impact of losing weight, drinking less or exercising more on absolute breast cancer risk.
The model includes five risk factors that are difficult or impossible to modify (reproductive characteristics, education, occupational activity, family history, and biopsy history).
In addition, it also covers three other risk factors that are more modifiable (alcohol consumption, leisure physical activity, and body mass index).
According to researchers, the model predicted that changes in the more modifiable risk factors would reduce the absolute risk of developing breast cancer by quantifiable amounts.
The average 20-year reduction in absolute risk among women aged 65 was 1.6pc in the entire population, 3.2pc among women with a positive family history of breast cancer and 4.1pc among women with the most non-modifiable risk factors.
They also noted that the results may help in designing programs aimed at encouraging lifestyle changes.
For example, in a general population of 1 million women, even a 1.6pc absolute risk reduction amounts to 16,000 fewer cases of cancer.
In contrast, 3.2pc reduction in a higher-risk group-postmenopausal women with a family history-amounts to only 2,560 fewer cases, according to the model.
Kathy J. Helzlsouer, M.D. of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore writes that the study "provides extremely important information relevant to counseling women on how much risk reduction they can expect by changing behaviors, and also highlights the basic public health concept that small changes in individual risk can translate into a meaningful reduction in disease in a large population."
The study has been published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.