Healthy living

One in eight women in UK will get breast cancer

One in eight women in UK will get breast cancer Rates continue to rise

One in eight women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, as breast cancer rates continue to rise.

Breast cancer rates in the UK rose 3.5 per cent in the past decade, with 47,700 women diagnosed with the disease in 2008 compared with 42,400 in 1999.

This means that the risk of developing the disease has risen from one in nine to one in eight.

Lifestyle factors such as being overweight, poor diet including drinking too much alcohol and lack of exercise all raise the risk of developing breast cancer. Women also tend to have fewer children later in life, which can add to the risk, as does having a family history of the disease.

The biggest rise in breast cancer rates was seen in women aged between 50 and 69, where cases increased by more than six per cent in the same 10 year period.

Rates among younger women aged 25 to 49 dropped slightly by 0.5 per cent.

The new figures were released by health charity Cancer Research UK to mark World Cancer Day.

However, breast cancer survival rates have also increased said the charity. Nearly two out of every three women with breast cancer now survive the disease beyond 20 years.

And more than three-quarters of women diagnosed with breast cancer survive for at least 10 years or more.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Women cannot change their genes but small changes in everyday habits can help to reduce cancer risk.

"Cutting back on alcohol by keeping within government recommended limits of no more than 14 units a week (a small drink a day) helps.

"Taking more exercise and eating a diet high in fibre but low in saturated fat can help maintain a healthy weight – which in turn reduces breast cancer risk.

“Women should also discuss hormone replacement therapy with their doctor as long-term use can raise breast cancer risk.

“Mammograms will pick up breast cancers early on before they can be felt as a lump or spotted through other visible changes and we know that the earlier a cancer is detected the more successful treatment is likely to be so women can benefit by taking up invitations to breast screening.”

This article was published on Fri 4 February 2011

Image © Forgiss -

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