The World Cancer Research Fund with the American institute for Cancer Research have recently published the most comprehensive review on breast cancer and diet, nutrition and physical activity http://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/CUP_BREAST_REPORT_2017_WEB.pdf.

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The work is exemplar because it does not simply take estimates derived from one source but brings together an international panel of experts to review all available evidence. WCRF estimate that around 38% of the disease is due to lifestyle (and that is before we think about smoking!), which is similar to estimates of around 30% reported by Howell et al https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25467785.

The report makes interesting reading, and to highlight some of the findings we thought you might like to test your knowledge on some key topics starting with alcohol and breast cancer.

Menopausal status

  • Alcohol is implicated in both pre- and post- menopausal breast cancer
  • In pre-menopausal cases there was a 5% increase risk per 10g alcohol per day (one small glass of wine)
  • In post-menopausal cases there was a 9% increase risk per 10g alcohol per day
  • In post-menopausal cases there were significant associations between alcohol intake and different hormone receptor cancers (ER+PR+ and ER+PR-)

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The mechanisms of how alcohol influences breast cancer are complex

  • The content of overall diet e.g. a low intake of dietary folic acid
  • Alcohol is metabolised to acetaldehyde which can cause DNA damage
  • Alcohol can act as a solvent which increases the ability of carcinogens to enter cells
  • Alcohol may increase circulating oestrogen levels
  • The impact of alcohol in breast cancer may be affected by a range of genetic factors which alter the sensitivity of breast cells to carcinogens

For more information and further details we recommend http://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/CUP_BREAST_REPORT_2017_WEB.pdf

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