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In recent years numerous studies have shown that weight control and regular exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer.

  • In spite of the great advances in the breast cancer survival rate in recent years, there is still a group of patients, the triple negatives, whose treatment needs remain uncovered

  • MD Anderson Cancer Center Foundation Spain has made a thousand pink ribbons to raise public awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and the prevention of breast cancer.

Almost 25% of cases of breast cancer in post-menopausal women could be avoided with the right diet and regular physical exercise. This is endorsed by multiple studies published in recent years that, as pointed out by Dr. Natalia Carballo, head of the Radiation Oncology Service at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid, “recommend weight control by cutting down on saturated fats and alcohol and by increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed, together with 30-60 minutes of physical exercise a day”. Very strong recommendations Dr. Carballo reminds us of on the occasion of World Breast Cancer Day, held every October 19. It is a date that, especially today, reminds us that with over 27,500 new cases a year in Spain breast cancer is at the top of the list as the most common cancer among women.

“Changing our lifestyles does not necessarily mean that we won’t get breast cancer at some time in our lives, but it can help to reduce the risk of getting it”, she stresses. In fact, she goes on to say that there are studies that show that regular physical exercise may reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 20%, compared to women with a more sedentary lifestyle.

Furthermore, some prospective studies have found a significant correlation between body mass index (BMI) and the risk of not only developing breast cancer for the first time, but of relapsing a second or third time, which means that a change in lifestyle does not only apply to healthy women, but also to women who have already had breast cancer.

Regarding alcohol, although there is less scientific evidence than in the case of physical exercise and diet, there are also studies that advise against consuming more than two alcoholic drinks a day (distilled liquor, mixed drinks with beer and/or wine) due to the relationship between breast cancer and estrogen positive receptors in post-menopausal women.

The challenge in triple negative breast cancer

In spite of the incredible advances in survival achieved in recent years through research, there is a sub-group of breast cancer patients for whom “there is still no adequate treatment”, underlines Dr. Carballo. Between 15% and 20% of breast cancers diagnosed in the world belong to this sub-type – triple negative, and life expectancy at five years is much less than for other types of breast cancer. Furthermore, the doctor also points out that, in most cases, the profile is of a young woman, which makes research into this more aggressive sub-type of breast cancer even more necessary.

“We already know that early detection is fundamental for treatment and for the survival of patients, but we now want to learn how to deal with different biological profiles and know what makes one person develop triple negative breast cancer and another develop a hormone-related breast cancer”.

For the moment, at MD Anderson Madrid there are protocols involving immunotherapy in the initial phases (I and II) that seek to discover the role that might be played by these therapies in the future to treat those patients whose treatment needs are currently uncovered.

“Knitting hope” in breast cancer

Patients, former patients, family members and volunteers have gathered once again for the campaign “Knitting hope”, in the hope of giving away more than a thousand handmade pink ribbons to everyone coming to MD Anderson Madrid next Thursday, October 19, World Breast Cancer Day. The aim of the initiative, held this year for the second year, is to raise public awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and the prevention of breast cancer.

Additionally, the money raised from donations will be invested in MD Anderson Cancer Center Foundation Spain research projects, the organization to which the group of volunteers who have spent months making these ribbons, a symbol of the fight against breast cancer, belong to. On Saturday, October 22 the event will be repeated in the Palacio de Hielo shopping mall, in Canillas.