Posted May 13, 2008 – Believe it or not, there is something you can do to avoid breast cancer. Two studies say that exercise is the best medicine, and you should start now, while you’re young.
During a six year period in studying 65,000 women and grils ages 12 to 35, researchers found that women who walked 23 hours a week or ran 3.25 hours reduced their cancer risk by 23 percent.
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"These results suggest that consistent physical activity during a woman's lifetime is associated with decreased breast cancer risk," wrote the study's authors, who were led by Dr. Graham Colditz, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "Unlike many risk factors for breast cancer, physical activity is an exposure that can be modified."
The study, by researchers at the Washington University and Harvard University in Boston, found high levels of physical activity from ages 12 to 22 contributed most strongly to the lower breast cancer risk.
The reason regular exercises seems to work is that it reduces body fat and lowers hormones, key factors in reducing the your cancer risk, scientists say.
"We don't have a lot of prevention strategies for pre-menopausal breast cancer, but our findings clearly show that physical activity during adolescence and young adulthood can pay off in the long run by reducing a woman's risk of early breast cancer," Prof Colditz, associate director of prevention and control at the Siteman Cancer Centre at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, said.
"This is just one more reason to encourage young girls and women to exercise regularly," he said.
It makes sense that exercise might reduce breast cancer risk, said said Dr. Julia Smith, director of the Lynne Cohen Breast Cancer Preventative Care Program at the New York University Cancer Institute and Bellevue Hospital in New York City, adding, "Women who are exercising regularly are decreasing body fat and estrogen."
There was no particular exercise associated with breast cancer risk reduction, health experts said. The most important thing is to simply get moving, they said.