How Does Exercise Reduce The Risk Of Breast Cancer?

A recent study by the American Cancer Society adds to increasing support that physical activity reduces the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

Evidence shows that women taking part in regular physical activity have approximately 25 percent lower risk of developing break cancer than compared to the most inactive women.

By definition, regular physical exercise involves partaking in at least 30 to 45 minutes of exercise, four to five times a week. Exercise and physical activity fall into four basic categories – endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.

However, it is sill unclear on whether moderately intense activities – such as walking and light weight lifting – imparts a benefit in the absence of vigorous exercise. It’s also unclear whether the association differs based on tumor features– such as hormone receptor status– or by individual factors such as a woman’s body mass index (BMI), weight status and use of postmenopausal hormones.

“Our results clearly support an association between physical activity and postmenopausal breast cancer, with more vigorous activity having a stronger effect,” said lead research Dr. Patel. “Our findings are particularly relevant, as people struggle with conflicting information and how much activity they need to stay healthy. Without any other recreational physical activities, walking on average of at least one hour per day was associated with a modestly lower risk of breast cancer. More strenuous and longer activities lowered the risk even more.”

Throughout the 17-year study, researchers compared exercise and breast cancer status of 73,615 postmenopausal women. Recreational activity varied from no exercise to extremely active. Current guidelines recommend adults get at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, per week.

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