Which Western lifestyle factors increase the risk for breast cancer?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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The Western lifestyle (ie, chronic excess energy intake from meat, fat, and carbohydrates and lack of exercise) strongly correlates with development of the following:

  • Obesity, particularly abdominal obesity

  • Chronic hyperinsulinemia

  • Higher production and availability of insulinlike growth factor (IGF)-1

  • Increased levels of endogenous sex hormones through suppression of sex hormone–binding globulin [53, 54]

Studies of dietary fat, total energy, and meat intake levels have largely been inconsistent in population studies of adult women with regard to risk of breast cancer. In contrast, epidemiologic studies have more consistently found a positive relation between breast cancer risk and early-life exposures such as diet, obesity, and body size (including height). [55, 56, 57] The mechanism of this relation is unknown.

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