Findings in a report confirm a now well-recognized but unfortunate trend -- breast cancer is being diagnosed more frequently among women living in China. The report suggests that poor diet and lifestyle tendencies explain the increasing rate of breast cancer diagnosis in China. This trend is also true in other Asian countries, particularly among younger women.
Breast cancer is diagnosed less often among women in Asian countries (such as China and Korea) than among women in Western countries (such as the United States and Europe). There are probably many factors that explain this difference. Different genetics are probably a large reason for the differences in breast cancer risk among different populations. But other factors, such as diet and exercise, also can affect breast cancer risk in different groups. In the past, the average woman living in an Asian country such as China:
- ate more fresh vegetables
- was closer to her ideal body weight
- was more physically active
- was less likely to drink significant amounts of alcohol
But increasingly, women living in Asian countries are adopting a typical Western diet and lifestyle, and this fact is undoubtedly contributing to the increase in breast cancer diagnoses. Research has shown that Asian women who live in the United States and have adopted a typical Western diet and lifestyle have breast cancer rates similar to the general U.S. population.
It's also possible that other environmental factors are contributing to the rising rate of breast cancer among women living in China. Rapid industrial growth in China has led to higher levels of air and water pollution, and higher pollution levels have been associated with cancer.
Regardless of your ethnicity or where you live, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of breast cancer. To learn more, visit the breastcancer.org Lower Your Risk section.