A study reported by the Journal of Clinical Oncology (2009) found that being obese, smoking, and drinking alcohol all increase the risk of breast cancer being diagnosed a second time in women previously diagnosed with the disease.
The researchers looked at the records of more than 1,000 women successfully treated for early-stage breast cancer. About 360 of the women were later diagnosed with a new breast cancer in the opposite breast (known as contralateral breast cancer). The researchers wanted to know if being obese, smoking, and regularly drinking alcohol contributed to the risk of developing a second breast cancer.
The risk of developing a second breast cancer was:
- 40% higher in women who were obese compared to women who weren't obese
- almost doubled in women who drank seven or more alcoholic drinks per week compared to women who didn't drink alcohol or drank less
- more than doubled in women who smoked compared to women who didn't smoke
The researchers also found that women who drank regularly AND smoked were more than 7 times more likely to develop a second breast cancer compared to women who didn't smoke or drink regularly.If you have been treated for early-stage breast cancer, try to do all you can to lower both your risk of the cancer coming back AND your risk of a new, second breast cancer. Along with the treatment plan you and your doctor choose, a healthy diet and lifestyle can help keep these risks as low as possible:
- Maintain a healthy weight and eat a low-fat diet that includes generous servings of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly at medium intensity.
- Don't smoke. If you do smoke, make the effort to quit.
- Avoid alcohol.