Exercise Could Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer in Women
Lacing up those sneakers and taking a stroll around the track might have more benefits than you think. A new study published in the journal Cancer suggests that regular exercise could lower the risk of cancer in women. The study found that even mild physical activity, like walking, may reduce risk for the disease that affects 227,000 new women each year.
The study included 1,504 women with breast cancer and 1,555 women without breast cancer between 20 and 98 years old. The women were part of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, an investigation of possible environmental causes of breast cancer.
But, how much reduced risk is seen through exercising?
Generally, women who did any exercise at all had a 6 percent lower risk of the disease than those who did not. The study revealed that women who had children and who exercised 10 to 19 hours per week or 2 hours for 5 days, during premenopausal or postmenopausal years, experienced the greatest benefit with an approximate 30 percent reduced risk.
"The observation of a reduced risk of breast cancer for women who engaged in exercise after menopause is particularly encouraging given the late age of onset for breast cancer," study author Lauren McCullough, a doctoral candidate at UNC's Gillings School of Public Health, said in a news release.
When the researchers looked at the effects of physical activity, weight gain and body size, they found that even active women who gained a significant amount of weight - particularly after menopause - had an increased risk of developing breast cancer, indicating that weight gain can eliminate the beneficial effects of exercise on breast cancer risk.
"We are excited by that, because it tells women that even if they are overweight or obese, they can still engage in physical activity and while they won't lower their risk of breast cancer [below average], they will not be increasing their risk of the disease," McCullough told Time.