Facebook Pixel

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: The Relationship Between Breast Cancer and Exercise

By HERWriter
Rate This
Breast Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With breast cancer reaching epidemic proportions and increasingly affecting women at a younger age, there is even more reason now to take preventive measures such as exercise.

According to the American Cancer Society, “Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.”

In fact, according to a recent report in USA Today, "One of the most important ways women can think about prevention is by maintaining a healthy weight throughout adulthood," says the American Cancer Society's Susan Gapstur. "Ways to achieve that are clearly through eating a healthy diet and being physically active."

Gapstur specifies that women should work on maintaining a healthy weight during adulthood.

The article cites The National Cancer Institute researcher, Rachel Ballard-Barbash, stating that obese women are 30 percent to 50 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who are at a healthy weight.

“In the Women's Health Initiative, a landmark government-funded study, postmenopausal women who walked 30 minutes a day lowered their breast cancer risk by 20%.”

There is good news for women who have maintained a healthy lifestyle for most of their life according to Cancer.gov. “Although most evidence suggests that physical activity reduces breast cancer risk in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women, high levels of moderate and vigorous physical activity during adolescence may be especially protective. Although a lifetime of regular, vigorous activity is thought to be of greatest benefit, women who increase their physical activity after menopause may also experience a reduced risk compared with inactive women.”

The site goes onto to state that a majority of the studies suggest that 30 to 60 minutes per day of moderate- to high- intensity physical activity contribute to reducing the risk of breast cancer.

The Journal for The American Medical Association echoes findings citing specifically the role exercise plays in survival of breast cancer, concluding, “Physical activity after a breast cancer diagnosis may reduce the risk of death from this disease. The greatest benefit occurred in women who performed the equivalent of walking 3 to 5 hours per week at an average pace, with little evidence of a correlation between increased benefit and greater energy expenditure. Women with breast cancer who follow US physical activity recommendations may improve their survival.”

“How many women get breast cancer? – Cancer.gov.” American Cancer Society. Web 4 Oct. 2011.

“Losing weight, getting fit can reduce risk of breast cancer – by Liz Szabo – YourLife.USAToday.” USA Today. Web 4 Oct. 2011.

“Physical Activity and Cancer – Cancer.Gov.” National Cancer Institute. Web 4 Oct. 2011.

“Physical Activity and Survival After Breast Cancer Diagnosis – Jama.Ama-Assn.Org.” The Journal for The American Medical Association. Web 4 Oct. 2011.

Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training.

Joanne's fitness plans and recipes are available globally on her website www.fitnessanswer.com. She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her husband, where she runs her personal training business, Fitness Answer, LLC.

Reviewed October 4, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Breast Cancer

Get Email Updates

Related Checklists

Breast Cancer Guide


Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!