Healthy Living Can Beat Bad Genes, Hopkins Cancer Researchers Say

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Knowing that you have a genetic predisposition toward breast cancer can feel like fate has it out for you. But according to recent research out of Johns Hopkins, even a high risk of breast cancer from genetics and family history can be mitigated through healthy living.

The researchers surmise that as much as 30 percent of the genetic predisposition to breast cancer can be outweighed by habits like healthy eating, not drinking alcohol, losing weight, not smoking, and not taking hormone replacement therapy. (The study’s population included only white women in the U.S., so take these results with a grain of salt.) Women with a high genetic predisposition who had healthy lifestyles developed cancer at about the same rate as those without the genetic risk.

“People think that their genetic risk for developing cancer is set in stone,” senior author Nilanjan Chatterjee, of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the Hopkins Hub. “While you can’t change your genes, this study tells us even people who are at high genetic risk can substantially change their health outlook by making better lifestyle choices such as eating right, exercising, and quitting smoking.”

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