Cancer Research UK moves to reassure over breast cancer increase

In collaboration with the Press Association

Cancer Research UK today issued a statement to reassure women over reports of increased breast cancer rates. The charity played down concerns that environmental factors were the behind the reported 80 per cent increase since the 70s.

Dr Lesley Walker, Cancer Research UK's director of cancer information, the rise in incidence was most likely due to increased affluence and the introduction of breast cancer screening.

"The steady increase in the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK over the past 30 years is most likely linked to the growing trend of women having fewer children, breast feeding for only short periods of time and starting families later.? said Dr Walker.

"Also, the increase in the average bodyweight for women has risen in the past three decades, and in postmenopausal women this is contributing to increased breast cancer risk - as are some forms of HRT if taken for prolonged periods. Women should be aware that breast cancer risk increases with age rising steadily after the menopause; four out of five new cases of the disease are diagnosed in women over 50.

"Fortunately, more women than ever are surviving breast cancer, thanks to early detection of the disease through the national screening programme and substantial improvement in treatments. Of those women diagnosed with breast cancer today two thirds are likely to survive for at least 20 years.? she added.

"A balanced diet and regular exercise can help women maintain a healthy weight which lowers the risk of several common cancers. Over the age of 50 women should ensure that they go for breast screening when invited. Women should also be aware of any significant family history of cancer and keep their doctor informed." --- Find out more about breast cancer risk factors on our patient information site, CancerHelp UK http://www.cancerhelp.org.uk/help/default.asp?page=3285