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Breast cancer cases on the increase

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More women are developing breast cancer, with the risk of developing the disease now standing at one in eight, figures have revealed.

UK breast cancer rates have climbed by 3.5% during the last 10 years, with 47,700 women diagnosed in 2008 compared to 42,400 12 years ago. As a result the lifetime risk of the disease has risen from one in nine women to one in eight.

Lifestyle factors such as obesity and drinking alcohol have been linked with fuelling the rise, while women are also more likely to have children later in life, with fewer offspring, which has an impact on the risk.

Coming from a family with a history of the disease also increases a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer, which kills around 12,000 people annually.

Cancer Research UK compiled the data, which has been published on World Cancer Day.

Cancer Research UK’s director of health information Sara Hiom said that although women are unable to do anything about their genes, changes in their everyday habits can have a positive effect on lowering their cancer risk.

She said: “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.”

The charity is urging eligible women to go for screening.

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