Lifestyle changes behind breast cancer
Updated: 2013-10-31 07:09
By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily)
Cancer rehabilitation volunteers stand in a swimming pool full of 1 million balls at the Kerry Hotel in Pudong, Shanghai, on Wednesday. Lai Xinlin / for China Daily
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China and other developing countries are experiencing a surge in breast cancer, according to a new study released by GE Healthcare this month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Some of the rise can be attributed to increased life expectancy, but changing lifestyles, such as women having fewer children, are also a factor, it said.
A 20 to 30 percent increase in breast cancer has been documented over recent decades in middle-aged women in China's urban areas, according to the report, although it said that this could be due in part to better diagnosis.
"We know from epidemiological studies that the risk of breast cancer is higher for women with no children," Bengt Jonsson, co-author of the report, said in an e-mail to China Daily.
"It also appears that having a child at a very young age (under 20) helps to protect against breast cancer. Having the first child over the age of 30 seems to be comparable to having no children."
Jonsson, a professor of health economics at the Stockholm School of Economics, said the findings could be linked to biological changes in the breast tissue such as early maturation of the tissue in relation to pregnancy, which could help guard against breast cancer.
Another finding is the relationship between breast-feeding and a lower risk of breast cancer, he said.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Chinese women. More than 160,000 breast cancer cases are detected each year and the incidence is rising at 3 to 4 percent annually.
According to the Shanghai Center for Disease Prevention, more than 4,000 out of about 25,000 new cancer cases among Shanghai women are breast cancer.