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Lifestyle linked to breast cancer

High incidence of obesity, binge drinking and lack of exercise in the UK have contributed to breast cancer rates that are four times higher than in East Africa, experts have said.

Statistics from the World Health Organization found some 87.9 per 100,000 British women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, compared to just 19.3 women per 100,000 in Eastern Africa, including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

While the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) said some of the difference is because British doctors are better at diagnosing and recording cases, the institute warned that unhealthy lifestyles were contributing to high rates of the disease.

Dr Rachel Thompson, Deputy Head of Science for the WCRF, said: "The fact that breast cancer rates in Eastern Africa are so much lower than in the UK is a stark reminder that, every year in this country, thousands of women are diagnosed with a case of cancer that could have been prevented.

"That such a large difference in breast cancer rates exists between these two areas is a real concern."

Dr Caitlin Palframan, Policy Manager at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "Breast cancer is thought to be due to a combination of lifestyle, genetic and environmental factors and, many of these may differ between the UK and other populations."

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