Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer Through Exercise
| One of the great successes at the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century is that 90% of the women who develop the most common forms of breast cancer will become breast cancer survivors. That is a statistic no one would have envisioned when looking forward from the 1960s. Today more women than ever before are beating and preventing breast cancer and one of the biggest reasons is the connection between breast cancer and exercise, plus a healthy diet. |
Now the results of a study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, show that breast cancer can be prevented entirely by those who become increasingly physically active. In fact, the research study, which analyzed sixty-two other studies, found that there was a very positive connection between breast cancer and exercise. More than 76% of the studies concluded that women who exercised reduced their risk of developing breast cancer.
Cancer and Exercise Study
The women who reduced their risk of breast cancer did so by as much as 25%-36%. There was no greater difference between women who engaged in high intensity exercise and those who exercised moderately. According to the authors of the report, there can be several reasons why breast cancer and exercise have a positive connection.
They wrote, “Exercise may act on breast cancer risk by reduction in circulating levels of and cumulative exposure to sex steroid hormones, changes related to insulin and adipocytokines, reduction in inflammation, modulation of the immune system, and hormonal and cellular metabolism pathways.”
How much exercise does it take to reap these breast cancer and exercise benefits? The good news is that you don’t have to be training to be an Olympic athlete to benefit. What you might consider a more normal amount--three to five hours a week of moderate exercise works just as well as twenty hours a week of high intensity exercise.
What is your BMI?
Equally interesting was the fact that exercise completed after women had reached the age of 50 was more effective in reducing the breast cancer risk than exercise done at an early age such as in adolescence or the 20s. And, another finding suggests that the lower a person’s BMI (Body Mass Index), the lower the risk was of breast cancer.
The BMI is a person’s weight in proportion to their height. Here it means that the thinner the people, the better the results. People who were very much overweight or obese, with a BMI of 30 or more did not significantly reduce their breast cancer risk. And, findings indicate that if you walk for one hour per week you would still reduce your risk, although minimally. Three to five hours of moderate exercise produced the best results of all.
Cancer and Estrogen Levels
If you decide to exercise plus add a diet that is very high in vegetables and fruits, you can lower your estrogen levels by a significant amount. Although estrogen is needed in some ways by the body, such as to prevent osteoporosis, too much estrogen leads specifically to breast cancer. Statistics show that a hefty 80% of all cases of breast cancer are related to an overabundance of this hormone.
Exercise goes right to the source of most breast cancers by reducing estrogen levels. Breast cancer and exercise are also not the only partnership with positive results. When you add a healthy dose of exercise to your lifestyle, you can prevent other forms of cancer as well. These are thought to include cancer of the esophagus, kidney cancer, endometrial cancer and colon cancer, among others.
American Cancer Society Recommendations
According to the American Cancer Society, there is significant evidence from numerous research studies as to the effectiveness of exercise in the prevention of breast cancer and in prevention of a recurrence among women who have survived breast cancer. The positive link between prevention of breast cancer and exercise continues to grow and becomes higher still with the addition of a nutritious diet, filled with fruits and vegetables.
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults exercise moderately to vigorously for 45 to 60 minutes, a minimum of five days a week. This is in addition to any physical activity you might do as part of your work or household responsibilities. Children and adolescents should get even more exercise, at least an hour a day of moderate to vigorous exercise.
It is important for women who are exercising with the hope of preventing breast cancer, or other cancers, to choose activities which they enjoy. This helps with the reduction of stress. The positive relationship between breast cancer and exercise is not dependent on any specific exercise.
Which Exercise Should I Do?
Some activities or sports that are considered to be moderate exercise are walking, slow cycling, riding a horse, roller-skating, ice skating, snowshoeing, practicing yoga, canoeing, alpine skiing, golf, softball or baseball, volleyball, doubles tennis, and many more.
Vigorous exercise means taking it up a notch, such as running instead walking, racing bicycles as opposed to leisurely rides, swimming, aerobics, weight training, ice hockey, racquetball, singles tennis, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and more. Working out and being physically active has many other benefits beyond cancer prevention as well, such as lowering blood pressure, preventing heart disease, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes.
Now that the battle to prevent breast cancer is becoming more and more successful, it is even more crucial that every woman adds exercise to her lifestyle. The more efforts that are made to prevent breast cancer and exercise, the more there is a chance of defeating breast cancer in this generation.
Start by taking small steps, such as walking or bicycling to work, buy a piece of exercise equipment, or join a team and play a sport. Team sports can be effective because of the social atmosphere and interaction involved. The most important thing is not what activity you choose, but that you get moving more. Changing from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one is not easy, but it can literally save your life.