ICA: Overweight women 250% more likely to get breast cancer

Israel Cancer Association publishes data on disease which kills 900 annually ahead of International Breast Awareness Month.

Overweight women have a 250-percent higher risk of breast cancer than women of normal weight, according to the Israel Cancer Association, which will mark International Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.
The ICA noted on Sunday that 4,000 Israeli women (and about 50 men) are diagnosed with the disease, with 900 dying from it each year. Only about 15% of the cases are caused by the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 defective gene that significantly increases the risk of the tumor, especially among younger women.
Throughout the month, the ICA will hold a number of events, some of them in cooperation with other organizations, to increase public awareness of breast cancer and the need for screening.
According to the Israel Cancer Registry, one in eight woman will contract breast cancer during her lifetime. But the earlier it is diagnosed, the easier it is to survive and recover. Thanks to excellent care in Israel, the survival rate here is among the highest in the world, and the mortality rate is showing signs of decline, the ICA said.
Mammography every two years for women over 50 is recommended and part of the basket of health services. Women at high risk (with breast cancer in the family) should begin screening at 40 or even earlier and undergo MRI screening as well.
On October 11, the ICA will hold a seminar at Kfar Maccabiah in Ramat Gan for 1,000 women from around the country who have been diagnosed with the disease. The free event to “Celebrate Life” is supported by Roche Pharmaceuticals.
Participants should register through the ICA at 1-800-599- 995. The month will be accompanied by a publicity campaign on TV and in the media in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian.
In addition to overweight, a Western diet of junk food increases the risk of breast cancer. Studies conducted on women living in Japan, comparing their risk level with Japanese women living in the West who follow a diet of processed food, are the basis for this statement. Regular physical exercise, such as walking three to six times a week for 20 to 45 minutes each time, also minimizes the risk.
Women should also avoid smoking, limit their drinking of alcohol and avoid exposure to the sun without protection to reduce the risk of cancer in general.
Harvard University researchers recently found that a diet rich in folic acid and vitamin B6 (found in dark green vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, vitamin-enriched grains and supplements) can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Men who contract breast cancer are usually diagnosed over the age of 60.
Men who have first-degree relatives (women or men) who had breast cancer have a higher risk; so are men whose blood relatives were diagnosed with it under age 40, or who had a number of first-degree relatives with ovarian or colon cancer.
More information can be obtained from the ICA website at www.cancer.org.il or the organization’s information center at (03) 572-1608.