The American Cancer Society began its third major long-term follow-up study in 1982, enrolling approximately 1.2 million American men and women. This nationwide study, called Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II) – and its companion study, the CPS-II Nutrition Cohort – have yielded mountains of cancer insights – including numerous breast cancer insights. The following are 5 key findings about breast cancer from CPS-II:
1. Walking helps women lower their risk of breast cancer: A CPS-II analysis of more than 73,000 post-menopausal women found that those who walked at least 7 hours per week were 14% less likely to develop breast cancer after menopause.
2. Losing weight and keeping it off could reduce breast cancer risk: An analysis of data from the CPS-II Nutrition Cohort suggests that losing 10 or more pounds and keeping it off for at least 5 years might reduce breast cancer risk among post-menopausal women.
- Evidence-based intervention: Keep It Off, a National Cancer Institute program designed to promote healthy dietary habits and increase physical activity to reduce obesity.
Start For Life – is a program designed to promote physical activity to reduce obesity. The intervention includes the following: 1) Start For Life Training Manual; 2) Start For Life PowerPoint Training slides and notes; 3) Start For Life Site Observation Form; and 4) Daily Activity Log. A research study was conducted to test the efficacy of the intervention and at posttest, the intervention group had a significantly lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than the comparison group. Source: National Cancer Institute – Research-tested Intervention Program
3. Gaining weight significantly increases the likelihood of developing breast cancer: A study of women from CPS-II has shown that those who put on 60 or more pounds after age 18 double their risk of a post-menopausal breast cancer diagnosis.
4. Smoking may increase risk of breast cancer for women: A study of women from CPS-II suggested that those who smoke are at increased risk for developing breast cancer. Additionally, women who started smoking at an earlier age were at an even higher risk for breast cancer.
5. Understanding common genetic variations may help to predict breast cancer risk: CPS-II data and bio-specimens have been used as part of a larger collaborative study that has enabled researchers to identify or confirm most of the common genetic mutations associated with increased risk of breast cancer in women. The more genetic variations linked to breast cancer that scientists find, the more useful the information will be for understanding why some women are at high-risk of getting the disease.
It’s important for women to know their personal risk of getting breast cancer and to share this information with their healthcare provider so they get the screening services they need. Women at increased risk will need a different screening protocol than women at average risk.
Here are some risk assessment tools to help spur conversations about risk between women and their providers:
Enhancing Communication with Providers
Questions are the Answer, is a 7-minute video available free from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Suitable for showing in health care waiting rooms, or use in one-on-one and group presentations, the video features real doctors and patients discussing the importance of conversations fueled by patient questions. The Agency also offers free tips and tools to enhance the provider/patient communication experience.
Focused on the unique communication challenges of older adults, the National Institute on Aging offers the Talking with Your Doctor Toolkit , a free Powerpoint presentation and related materials designed to help older adults make the most of their medical appointments (based on NIA’s popular booklet Talking With Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People).
Self- Awareness and Screening
The best way to survive breast cancer is to find and treat it early. By practicing breast self-awareness and having regular clinical breast exams and mammograms, women can take a proactive approach to breast health care. A variety of screening programs are available across the state to serve women who may face financial or other barriers to screening services.
The American Cancer Society offers free presentation slides and speakers notes about breast cancer (as well as other cancers and healthy lifestyles). Click here to access tools for both short (20 minutes) and longer-format (30-45 minute) presentations.