Silver bullets

18Dec09

When first faced with my family history of breast cancer, I started coming up with all sorts of rationales of why breast cancer wouldn’t affect me. I tried to figure out what my mother, aunt, and grandmother all had in common that I don’t have. I figured out they all drank alcohol regularly. Of course, drinking is bad for you, right? I even recall reading several news articles saying it causes breast cancer. Great, I hardly ever drink! I thought to myself: Better yet, I’ll just completely stop drinking any alcohol from this day forward. That will protect me.

Imagine my surprise at the following study which shows there is no increase in breast cancer risk under 50yo for BRCA carriers. In fact, if anything, there may be a slight decrease of breast cancer risk for BRCA2 carriers who drink moderately. So much for easy answers.

This type of contradictory information about cancer risk factors is not new however. If you want, see this comprehensive list of things which news reports have claimed will kill or cure you (and many times both).

I am realizing now that genes have a big role to play here and there are no particular lifestyle choices that will make me immune. I should just maintain a healthy lifestyle based on common sense: eat a diversity of foods and exercise in moderation. It may not prevent cancer, but at least it has good side effects.

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