Almost half of all breast cancer cases could be prevented if women lived healthier lifestyles, it is claimed today.
A new report says that as many women could avoid developing the potentially fatal disease each year, if they took more exercise, drank less and ate better.
The World Cancer Research Fund recommends taking half an hour of physical exercise a day, limiting alcohol consumption to just one drink daily and losing weight.
Dr Rachel Thompson, Deputy Head of Science at WCRF, said: “These figures show that we still have a long way to go to raise awareness about what women can do to prevent breast cancer.
“It is very worrying that in the there are still tens of thousands of cases of breast cancer which could be prevented every year. Breast cancer can be prevented by cutting down on drinking, being more physically active and carrying less body fat.
“There is convincing evidence that alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer. In postmenopausal women there is convincing evidence that body fatness also increases risk and there is evidence that regular physical activity probably reduces the risk of breast cancer.”
But the WCRF estimates that 42pc of these cases – would be preventable if women developed healthier lifestyles.
Its 10 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention include being “as lean as possible without becoming underweight”; keeping fit; limiting consumption of fatty, salty and sugary food and drink; eating fruit, vegetables and pulses; eating less red meat and processed meat; drinking less and choosing a balanced diet rather than vitamin supplements.
However some campaign groups cautioned that breast cancer is a complex disease and that living healthily may not always be enough to avoid developing tumours.
Dr Rachel Greig, Senior Policy Officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “A woman’s lifestyle choices don’t mean for certain that she will or won’t get breast cancer because genetic and environmental factors can also play a part.”