Mild or intense exercise before or after menopause cuts risk
Past studies have demonstrated that physical activity can cut breast cancer risk but never answered those pondering questions as to how much, how long or how intense until now.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, researchers led by Laura McCullough, doctoral candidate in epidemiology set out to find the association between breast cancer and exercise, done in different points in a woman’s life and the risk for developing breast cancer.
This study included 1,504 woman with breast cancer (233 noninvasive and 1275 invasive) and 1,555 women without breast cancer, aged 20 to 98 years, who were part of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project. The women answer questions concerning their physical activity during their life, any recreational activity that had done at a minimum of one hour a week for at least three months or more.
Women who had done any exercise either during their reproductive or postmenopausal years had a six percent reduced risk to develop breast cancer. Those women had the greatest benefit of a 30% reduced risk for developing breast cancer had exercised between 10 and 19 hours a week. Reduced risks were seen at all levels of intensity and exercise appeared to preferentially reduce the risk of hormone positive receptive breast cancer (ER or PR positive) the most commonly diagnosed tumor among American women.
Researchers had written "Collectively, these results suggest that women can still reduce their breast cancer risk later in life by maintaining their weight and engaging in moderate amounts of activity,"
When researchers looked at the combined effects of physical activity, weight gain and body size, they had found that even active women who gained a significant amount of weight, especially after menopause had an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Researchers note that this indicates weight gain can eliminate the beneficial effects of exercise on breast cancer. Benefits are not associated to exercise alone but also consuming a healthy diet.
This new study is published in the journal Cancer.
Just last year, Dr. Alovaro Carrascal, American Cancer Society Senior Vice President of Cancer Control for New York and New Jersey, had noted there is a broad range of studies which demonstrate that active women have a lower risk for developing breast cancer.
In nearly fifty of those studies had shown that active women had a 20% less risk for developing breast cancer in comparison to non-active women. Those studies also revealed that exercise reduced the risk of breast cancer in pre-menopausal and postmenopausal women.
Dr. Carrascal noted it is never too late to reduce the risk for breast cancer. The risk decreases when you lose weight and anytime weight is lost you gain overall benefits. He notes that even women that are at a healthy weight and had breast cancer can still receive benefits.
Simply put exercise and a healthy diet not only cut your risk for breast cancer but give you a host of other benefits as well.