There was this article in todays Daily Mail 30/9/2006
"Lifestyles blamed for 80% rise in breast cancer"
The number of cases of breast cancer has almost doubled in a generation, driven up by changes in lifestyle and diet. Almost 37,000 women in England and Wales were diagnosed with the disease in 2004 - 10% more than in previous year and 80% more than 1971.One in nine British women now develops breast cancer at some point in her life. More than 1,000 die of the disease each month.
Cancer experts blame the ageing population and changes in lifestyle and diet for the surge, and warned the figures are likely to continue to rise.If the trend documented by the Office for National Statistics, does continue there could be more than 50,000 new breast cancer patients a year by the end of the decade. However improved detection rates and treatments mean more victims survive. The rise in the number of cases can be partly explained by the ageing population with the cancer being most common in the elderly.
However modern-day lifestyles in which financial independence has allowed women to delay motherhood., until their 30's 0r 40's, while they pursued a career has played a large part.
Dr. Lesley Walker of Cancer Research UK, said "The steady increase in the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK over the past 30 years is most likely to be linked to the growing trend of women having fewer children, breast feeding for a short time and starting families later. Also, average body weight for women has risen in the past three decades and in post-menopausal women this is contributing to the increasing in breast cancer risk-as are some forms of hormone replacement therapy if taken over long periods."
It is thought pregnancy and breast feeding lead to changes in the breast tissue which protect against cancer.Becoming pregnant for the first time early in life has been shown to be particularly protective. Todays trend towards smaller families. late motherhood and bottle feeding means women have less natural protection.
The introduction of mammograms for the over-50's has also contributed to the increased caseload because it means the disease is being detected more often. Better nutrition means girls start their periods earlier and go through menopause later, increasing their exposure to the female sex hormone oestrogen which is thought to be a factor in breast cancer. Oestrogen is also a key component of HRT, so those undergoing HRT have the hormone on their systems longer. Currently 3.5 million women in the UK take the Pill, with most using a type which contains oestrogen and progesterone. Those who take it face a 25% higher risk of breast cancer.
The rising tide of obesity and binge-drinking has also played a part, with fatty foods and alcohol both increasing the chances of contracting breast cancer. Drinking only a single glass of wine a day increases a womans risk of developing cancer by 6%. The threat grows with each additional glass. Women drinking more than a bottle of wine a day are up to 50% more likely to develop breast cancer. It is estimated that around one in 20 cases, around 2,000-can be blamed on drinking.
There are also worries that modern pesticides and industrial chemicals are triggering the cancer.
Death rates though have been falling because of advances in treatment and regular screening. Two thirds of women diagnosed with breast cancer today will still be alive in 20 years time, compared with a 50% survival rate in the early 1990’s.