(www.BlackDoctor.org) -- Most people exercise to stay healthy or fit into that new dress you just bought as a goal. Those same routine sit-ups and running could help reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life.
And it's never too late to start. Researchers at the German Cancer Center and the University Hospitals of Hamburg-Eppendorf asked 3,464 breast cancer patients and 6,657 women about their physical activity during 2 periods: from 30 to 49 years of age and after age 50. They found that the regular exercisers were less likely to be breast cancer patients and discovered that women who were more active later in life reduced their breast cancer risk to an even greater extent than women who exercised more in their 30s.
"Our advice to all women is therefore to stay or become physically active also in the second half of your life," says Associate Professor Dr. Karen Steindorf, one of the researchers involved in the study, known as the MARIE study. "You'll not only reduce your risk of breast cancer, but it has been proven that your bones, heart, and brain will benefit from it."
The researchers also looked to see whether there was any correlation between physical activity --or the lack of it – and breast cancer type. They found that women who were more active since age 50 were less likely to be diagnosed with hormone-receptor positive breast cancer than women who were less active since age 50.
They also discovered that this link held regardless of body mass index or weight gain. Based on this evidence, the researchers suspect that the risk reduction may be related to changes in hormonal pathways.
So, how much activity is enough? You don't need to be at the gym 24-7.
"It doesn't always have to be sports," says Steindorf. "In our calculations we have also taken account of activities such as gardening, cycling, or walking to the shops."
In one study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) as little as 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of brisk walking reduced a woman's breast cancer risk by 18%. Walking 10 hours a week reduced the risk a little more.
To reduce your risk of breast cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity above normal activities 5 or more days a week.
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