Previous research has linked lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, and smoking status to breast cancer risk. A recent study published in Nutrition Journal further supports this previous research.
Researchers examined lifestyle factors and how they affect the risk of breast cancer among Iranian women aged 30 years and older. There were 350 participants with breast cancer, while 700 participants were considered “healthy”. Participants’ diet, physical activity, and smoking status were assessed via a questionnaire. To measure the quality of participants’ diets, researchers used the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010). After all the data were assessed, each participant received a healthy lifestyle score (HLS). Participants were either considered to have a “higher” healthy lifestyle score or a “lower” HLS score, based on their lifestyle factors.
The study reported a significant relationship between healthy lifestyle score / healthy eating index and breast cancer risk. Specifically, those with higher HLS and HEI scores were significantly less likely to have breast cancer. The association between HLS and breast cancer was not found in premenopausal women. This could have been due to a lower amount of premenopausal participants. Surprisingly, physical activity levels and smoking status were not associated with breast cancer risk in this study.
Previous studies have shown that regular physical activity levels and non-smoking status are associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. Also, some previous studies have not shown associations between diet and reduced breast cancer risk. The authors of this study believe that using the HEI-2010 provided greater dietary assessments. This may have allowed researchers to see an association between diet and breast cancer that other studies were unable to.
This study contributes to current knowledge suggesting that an overall healthy lifestyle can help reduce breast cancer risk – this includes consuming a quality diet.
Ghosn B, Benisi-Kohansal S, Ebrahimpour-Koujan S. et al. Association between healthy lifestyle score and breast cancer. Nutr J; 19, 4, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-020-0520-9