By Betty Yu

MARIN COUNTY (KPIX 5) – Fewer women in Marin County are getting breast cancer and dying from it now than ever before.

The county has seen a 31 percent drop in new cases since 2001.

“We’re thrilled to know that rates are finally on the decline, especially in a community that’s been so concerned about breast cancer for so long,” said Dr. Tina Clark, an epidemiologist with the Cancer Prevention Institute of California.

Clarke, who authored the study, said it has to do with something women stopped doing more than 10 years ago.

“As women quit taking hormone therapy in the mid-2000s because of new research showing that it was not as safe as people thought it was, we saw that breast cancer rates in Marin come down,” Clarke said.

Now, those rates are about average with the rest of California.

Back in 2003, Clarke saw a sharp drop in breast cancer rates after a national health study linked the disease to hormone therapy for menopause.

Since then, breast cancer has been on a steady decline in Marin.

“One suggestion has been that this might be related to women, more women getting more physically active and losing weight, because we know that excess weight especially after menopause can cause breast cancer,” Clarke said.

More research needs to be done, but Clarke hopes more women living healthy lifestyles and getting screened when they should are all contributing to the trend.

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