Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer in women and continues to be an important health issue. Although much more is understood regarding breast cancer, there seems to be somewhat of a void in the effectiveness of preventative strategies. However, some new research may be able to provide more help and information to all women who wish to practice prevention.
According to a study recently published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention there is a direct link between the degree of physical activity and the risk of breast cancer development in post-menopausal women. While previous research has indeed indicated that varying degrees of physical activity can lower breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women, there was some speculation as to the effects of less strenuous forms of exercise on risk reduction.
The researchers looked at a total of 73,615 postmenopausal women between the years 1992-2009—4,760 of whom were diagnosed with breast cancer. At the beginning of the study, 9.2% of the participants were sedentary. The rest of the women reported that they participated in at least three and a half hours per week of moderately-paced activities like walking, cycling, aerobic classes, or dancing. Most women reported not participating in vigorous activities like running, tennis, or swimming.
The results of this study indicated that the women who were more physically active were more likely to weigh less, smoke less, take hormones, and undergo mammography compared to sedentary women. After the statistical adjustments for age, body weight, race, education, smoking, alcohol intake, and family history, the participants who were the most active had a 25% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared with the least active group of women!
Among the women who walked as their only manner of exercise, the participants who walked seven or more hours per week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer compared to the women who walked three hours or less per week!
“Our results clearly support an association between physical activity and postmenopausal breast cancer, with more vigorous activity having a stronger effect,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Alpa Patel.
“Our findings are particularly relevant as people struggle with conflicting information about 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 exercise, as well as exercising for longer periods of time, is even more beneficial.
The take-away message from a study like this is that physical activity performed even at the lower-ends of the recommended guidelines can have a positive effect upon breast cancer risk.
Currently, the recommended levels of physical activity are two and a half hours per week of moderately-paced activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. These recommendations are made to improve overall health but not for risk reduction! Currently, less than 50% of all women living in the U.S. can even meet this requirement!
Can you imagine the degree of risk reduction that would occur if more women exercised regularly and more vigorously every week! The results would translate into far fewer cases, fewer treatments, fewer deaths, and certainly, a great deal less pain and suffering.
In my opinion, this is where the money needs to be spent to reduce the incidence of breast cancer in North America. This is a simple prevention strategy that is cheap, effective and backed by research.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Barclay, L.,“Moderate Activity Linked to Lower Breast Cancer Risk,”Medscape website, October 15, 2013.
Patel, A., etal.,“Recreational Physical Activity and Leisure-Time Sitting in Relation to Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk,”Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. October 2013; 22: 1,906.