Staying Fit and Active Lowers Your Risk of Breast Cancer
Exercise — it could be the most important thing you do to decrease your risk of contracting breast cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, “many studies show that physically active women have a lower risk of breast cancer than inactive women; in a 2013 meta-analysis of 31 prospective studies, the average breast cancer risk reduction associated with physical activity was 12 percent.”
This may seem obvious, as we all know that exercising is healthy, but the direct correlation with breast cancer risk reduction is notable. Two studies presented this past June at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago suggested that even just 25 minutes of brisk walking a day could go a long way to cutting your chances of a breast cancer diagnosis.
It really is that simple: Exercising cuts breast cancer risk. Presenting their findings at a breast cancer conference in Europe, researchers told conference attendees that the more active a woman was, the more likely she was to avoid breast cancer. Their study looked at various other research projects that involved more than 4 million women across the globe from 1987 through 2013.
While they did find that the women who were the most active — participating in more than an hour a day of vigorous activity — lowered their risk the most at 12 percent, they also found that any level of activity decreased the risk at least a little bit. Even women who are obese can see a 10 percent reduction in risk with increased activity.
“This decrease is the same whatever the country, whatever the age, whatever the menopausal status,” said research director Mathieu Boniol said. He added that the type of activity wasn’t a factor, just the amount, meaning that if women were active at work, in their daily living or in sports, they could see a decrease in their risk of breast cancer. “It’s very good news,” Boniol said.
Scientists aren’t yet sure why exercise is so beneficial for women when fighting off breast cancer, but they have speculated about how it affects hormone levels and inflammation. Other studies have even shown as much as a 25 percent decrease in cancer risk in active women, although Boniol is convinced that his 12 percent finding is more accurate due to the massive number of women in the study.
The key is that exercise doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and it’s a healthy, holistic way to fight breast cancer at any age, even after menopause. Said Boniol, “It’s not something to say, ‘Oh, I’ve never done sports, why do that right now?’ We now have evidence that it could still be beneficial. And it’s cheap. It’s a very cheap way to do prevention of breast cancer.”
If nothing else, this exciting news should be just the push you need to add a little more activity to your day. It could save your life.