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Everyday choices have a greater impact on breast cancer risk

If all a doctor ever does is look at a patient's exposure to industrial chemicals, like bisphenol A and phthalates, then an individual may be faced with a delayed cancer diagnosis. That's because a newly released study has found that the everyday things women are exposed to put them at greater risk of developing breast cancer.

The study was done by the Institute of Medicine, and was paid for by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. Over the course of 20 months, the study found that there is not a distinct link between environmental chemicals and new cases of breast cancer. Rather, the choices women make each day on the kinds of foods they eat, the amount of alcohol they consume and the prescription drugs they take likely have a much greater impact on their risk of developing breast cancer.

It was also concluded that body fat and weight gain after menopause can particularly increase a woman's risk. In addition, the amount of alcohol that is consumed during a woman's life can increase her risk of developing breast cancer, as well as the use of oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy. On the other hand, exercise was found to decrease a woman's risk.

Although there is still much to learn about breast cancer and its causes, the study recommends that the Food and Drug Administration require drug makers to provide more proof that their drugs do not increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. Additionally, it recommends more studies be done throughout a woman's life to determine what factors may effect a woman's risk of developing the deadly disease.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Life choices dwarf pollutants in breast cancer risk, report finds," Melissa Healy, Dec. 7, 2011

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