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Exercise May Cut Aggressive Breast Cancer Risk in Black Women

Update Date: Dec 11, 2013 06:11 PM EST

Exercise may reduce the risk of aggressive breast cancer in black women, according to a new study.

A two-decade long observational study of more than 44,700 black women in the U.S. linked regular vigorous exercise to a significantly lower risk of developing an aggressive subtype of breast cancer in women.

Researcher from Georgetown University and Boston University found that black women who engaged in brisk exercise for a lifetime average of three or more hours a week had a 47 percent reduced risk of developing estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer compared with those exercising an average of one hour per week.

Researchers said that estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer, which includes HER2-positive and triple negative tumors, is linked to both higher incidence and mortality in black women, relative to white women.  This type of breast cancer is very dangerous because tumors do not respond to hormone therapies used to treat tumors that have the estrogen receptor.

"These findings are very encouraging. Knowing that exercise may protect against breast cancers that disproportionately strike black women is of great public health importance," Lucile Adams-Campbell, PhD, professor of oncology and associate director of Minority Health & Health Disparities Research at Georgetown Lombardi, said in a news release.

"We all want to do what we can to reduce our risk of disease and improve our health, and along with other well known benefits, we now show that exercise can possibly stave off development of potentially lethal breast cancer in black women," she added.

The findings will be presented at the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

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