Scroll To Top

Young women
unaware of links to breast cancer

Young women
unaware of links to breast cancer

Most female students are unaware that lifestyle factors can influence their risk of developing breast cancer, according to a survey released on Monday.

A poll of more than 10,000 students in 23 countries showed more than half knew heredity was a risk factor. But less than 5% realized that eating too much, drinking too much alcohol, and not getting enough exercise also had an impact.

"It is very worrying that information about being overweight, having a high alcohol intake, and taking little exercise has simply not been effectively communicated to young women in any of the countries we surveyed," said Jane Wardle, of the charity Cancer Research U.K., who headed the research team.

American students were the most aware that lifestyle could place a role in breast cancer. Ten percent of Americans questioned in the poll published in the European Journal of Cancer knew alcohol was a risk factor compared to 4% in England, a percentage that was less than in Greece, Spain, and Colombia.

Female students in Iceland, Ireland, Greece, and South America were better informed about the link between lack of exercise and breast cancer than English students.

"The results of this study suggest that students could be overestimating the impact of genetic factors and are certainly underestimating the importance of lifestyle factors," Wardle said.

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. More than 1 million cases occur worldwide each year, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.

The disease develops most often in older women. Factors that can also increase a woman's risk of the breast cancer include having a mother or close relative with the disease, being in early puberty or late menopause, and not having any children.

Some studies also have shown that lesbians are at a higher risk of breast cancer than their heterosexual peers. Researchers say this may be linked to the fact that lesbians are less likely to have children than heterosexual women and that on average lesbians may be heavier than straight women.

The contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy after menopause may also cause an increase in risk, but the risk gradually returns to normal once a woman goes off these regimens.

Students in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America took part in the study. (Reuters, with additional reporting by The Advocate)

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff