One in eight women will develop breast cancer, charity says

The lifetime risk of getting breast cancer has risen over the last decade from one woman in nine to one in eight, according to new figures from Cancer Research UK. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and it has been on the rise for several years.  Figures taken from the Office of National Statistics show that in 1999, 42,400 women were diagnosed with the disease – in 2008 that number increased to 47,700. The biggest rise in rates was among women aged between 50 and 69 where cases increased by more than six per cent over the same 10 year period. Rates among younger women aged 25 to 49 dropped slightly by 0.5 per cent. On its science update blog, Cancer Research UK looked at the question of why rates had gone up.  Although it said that there’s no simple answer and that many factors are out of people’s control, it did highlight certain lifestyle factors that can affect the risk of breast cancer. Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of health information, said: “Women cannot change their genes but small changes in everyday habits can help to reduce cancer risk. Cutting back on alcohol.. 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.” Although warning that more women are developing breast cancer, the Charity was keen to stress the good news that survival rates have improved considerably.  Almost two out of every three women with breast cancer now survive the disease beyond 20 years, compared to less than half in the 1990s.  And more than three-quarters of women diagnosed with breast cancer survive for at least 10 years or more. For advice on how to protect you and your family financially against breast cancer and other critical illnesses, see the life insurance section of our website.

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