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Breast cancer rates "on the rise"

Breast cancer rates are increasing in the UK, with new figures revealing that one in eight women are now developing the disease.

Over the last 10 years, the number of women with breast cancer has risen by 3.5%. In 1999, 42,400 were diagnosed with the disease, while in 2008 the figure was 47,700.

Lifetime risk of the disease has now changed from one in nine women to one in eight.

The reasons for the rise have been attributed to lifestyle choices, such as alcohol consumption and obesity, while women are also more likely to have fewer children and have them later in life, which can also affect the risk.

The chances of developing breast cancer - which kills around 12,000 in the UK every year - is also increased if there is a history of the disease within the family.

The latest data, from Cancer Research UK, have been published to coincide with World Cancer Day.

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 by keeping within government recommended limits of no more than 14 units a week (a small drink a day) 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.

'Women should also discuss hormone replacement therapy with their doctor as long-term use can raise breast cancer risk.'

The charity is also urging eligible women to go for screening.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Cancer Research UK