At this point doctors sound like broken records when they tell us to eat healthy, exercise, limit the amount of alcohol we drink, and avoid smoking. But it bears repeating, considering that a new, large-scale study found women who followed this advice reduced their risk of breast cancer by nearly 30 percent. Breast Cancer Risk From Modifiable and Nonmodifiable Risk Factors Among White Women in the United States. Maas P, Barrdahl M, Joshi AD. JAMA oncology, 2016, May.;():2374-2445. Even if the guidelines don’t seem revolutionary, the research is a big deal for women at higher risk of developing the disease.
It's important to point out that, like every other study, this one has its limitations. Researchers analyzed data from more than 40,000 white women who were tested for 24 breast cancer-related gene variants. Though they believe research on nonwhite women would show similar patterns, the study didn't include them—or the BRCA gene mutation, which has been linked to a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Even with these caveats, it’s hard not to heed this advice, since we already know healthy habits like exercise and eating well come with tons of other benefits.