A Brisk Walk A Day Can Keep Breast Cancer At Bay
Regular exercise is good for your heart, good for your bones, and a new study finds that it may even reduce the risk of breast cancer.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers studied over 3,000 women ages 20 to 98, about half of whom had breast cancer, and found that women who exercised during their reproductive or postmenopausal years had a reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
The exercise can be mild or intense - even as much as a brisk walk each day can help - but those who exercised 10 to 19 hours per week experienced the greatest benefit at almost a 30 percent reduced risk. That said, the chances of breast cancer were reduced at all levels of exercise intensity.
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"You don't have to be in the gym running on the treadmill, and it doesn't all have to be 10 consecutive hours," said lead author and epidemiologist Lauren McCullough, according to The Boston Globe. Even walking the dog, taking the stairs, or doing housework could be beneficial, she said.
Physical activity seemed to reduce the risk of hormone receptor positive breast cancers, the most commonly diagnosed tumor type among American women, the study authors said.
"We didn't see a risk reduction during the time before the first birth," McCullough told ABC News. "There is a strong association seen with postmenopausal women, which is totally in line with other studies."
Around 48,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and of these 80 per cent are over 50, according to The Daily Mail. It's heartening, then, that successful prevention can be done by simply slipping on a pair of sneakers and getting some exercise.
"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," McCullough said.
"I was excited by the results because as women tend to age, they get set in their habits, and think that if they haven't been active their whole life, why start now," McCullough told TIME. "But it's important to show that there is research-based evidence that says that you can start exercising after menopause and still enjoy really good benefits."
Physically active women who were overweight or obese to begin with - those with a Body Mass Index over 30 - showed a lower risk of breast cancer than those who did not exercise.
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