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Breast Cancer Risk May Decrease With Vigorous Exercise

By HERWriter
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Breast Cancer related image Photo: Getty Images

Exercise provides a number of well-known health benefits. It may not be so well-known that women past menopause who exercise even moderately may decrease their breast cancer risk. Sciencedaily.com reported in an October 1, 2009 article on research that was recorded in the open access journal BMC Cancer.

Dr. Tricia M. Peters of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland led an international team researching any link between exercise and breast cancer. Results of their study saw a 16 percent difference between women who exercised moderately to vigorously more than seven hours a week, and women who did not.

This difference happened for women who had been exercising for the last ten years. No such difference was found for women who exercised when they were at a younger age.

According to Cancer.gov, research supports the idea that active women are less at risk than inactive women for breast cancer. In general, it seems that active premenopausal and postmenopausal women benefit from this reduced risk, and that exercise undertaken during adolescence especially cuts the risk.

Postmenopausal women who are physically active may also have a lower risk than inactive postmenopausal women. Cancer.gov reports that most research indicates that half an hour to an hour a day of moderate to vigorous exercise is linked to a decreased risk of breast cancer.

Exercise may hinder development of tumors due to lowered hormone levels. This may be especially true before menopause. Exercise lowers insulin levels and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and enhances immune response, as well as maintaining a proper weight. These factors may contribute to a reduced risk for breast cancer.

Postmenopausal African-American women who exercised vigorously for more than two hours a week had less risk by 64 percent than inactive African-American women. These were the findings from research out of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This has extra significance due to the fact that African-American are more likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer than white women. More African-American women also may develop triple-negative breast cancer which is the most aggressive form.

This research was published in an October 4, 2010 article on News-medical.net, and shared at the Third AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities from September 20 to October 3, 2010.

Vigorous activity only seemed to reduce risk for postmenopausal women, who had a decreased risk of 62 percent. When walking was combined with this level of activity in the research findings, benefits for premenopausal and postmenopausal women increased.


Recent, Vigorous Exercise Is Associated With Reduced Breast Cancer Risk. Sciencedaily.com. Web. August 30, 2011.

Physical Activity and Cancer. Cancer.gov. Web. August 30, 2011.

Vigorous exercise reduces breast cancer risk: Study. News-medical.net. Web. August 30, 2011.

Visit Jody's website and blog at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

Reviewed September 1, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.

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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.

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