Exercise can lower a woman's chances of developing breast cancer, researchers say. The finding, published in the Cancer journal, suggests that physical exercise can be an effective form of breast cancer prevention.
Lauren E. McCullough from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues made the connection while investigating the relationship between recreational physical activity and breast cancer risk.
They did this by studying 1,504 women with breast cancer and compared them to 1,555 women without the disease as part of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project. In addition to exercise and breast cancer, the participants, whom ranged in age from 20 - 98 years, also provided researchers with useful data regarding the effects of body size, weight gain and activity on breast cancer.
Researchers learned that reproductively active and post menopausal women who participated in even moderate levels of physical exercise lowered their chances of developing breast cancer by 30%. Conversely, women who didn't exercise were at greatest risk for breast cancer.
"[Recreational physical activity] at any intensity level during the reproductive and postmenopausal years have the greatest benefit for reducing breast cancer risk. Substantial postmenopausal weight gain may eliminate the benefits of regular activity." McCullough and her coleagues concluded.
The results of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project are supported by previous research. In fact, earlier this year British and Chinese researchers published the results of a meta-analysis which found aerobic and strength training exercises had a positive effect on breast cancer.
Several benefits of exercise include improved oxygen consumption, energy output and weight reduction. Cells become increasingly susceptible to free radical damage as well as shortening the length of the DNA caps as they age, which in turn can cause them to become cancerous.
Exercise is a useful cancer prevention method because it eases oxidative stress and slows telomere loss.
Moreover, excess body fat has long been associated with increased cancer risk, thus it stands to reason that the above mentioned benefits of exercise i.e. reducing body fat and minimizing cellular damage would lower breast cancer risk in reproductive and postmenopausal women.
Do you believe that physical fitness can prevent breast cancer? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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McCullough, L.E., Eng, S.M., Bradshaw, P.T., Cleveland,R.J., Teitelbaum, S.L., Neugut, A.L., Gammon, M.D. (2012). Fat or fit: The joint effects of physical activity, weight gain, and body size on breast cancer risk Cancer 25 June DOI: 10.1002/cncr.27433
"Exercise Cuts Breast Cancer Risk In Women" copyright 2012 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). all Rights Reserved.