There are many breast cancer risk factors you can’t control like your family history, when you started menstruating and when you went through menopause. These factors play a role in your breast cancer risk. But there are lifestyle factors you can modify such as your level of physical activity. When it comes to breast cancer and physical activity, how important is it to exercise?
Risk of Breast Cancer and Physical Activity: How Important is It to Stay Active?
German researchers recently looked at what lifestyle factors play the most significant role in determining breast cancer risk. When they studied almost 10,000 women, 60% of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer, they found four lifestyle factors were most important. They were use of hormone replacement therapy, lack of physical activity, being overweight and using alcohol – in that order. Of the four, hormone replacement therapy and being inactive were the most strongly associated with risk of breast cancer.
How important was staying active? According to this study, 12.8 percent of breast cancer cases can be blamed on being inactive, while 19.4 percent are related to hormone replacement therapy. Together, these two factors explain three out of ten cases of breast cancer – and they’re both factors you can control.
Breast Cancer and Physical Activity: How Active Do You Have to Be?
There’s no real consensus on this. While most studies show that staying active lowers breast cancer risk, how much you need to exercise and how vigorously is still debatable. One thing is evident. More time spent moving vigorously is probably better.
One study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, found that vigorous, but not moderate, exercise lowered the risk of breast cancer in women who weren’t overweight. Vigorous exercise doesn’t have to mean running a marathon. Strenuous housecleaning like scrubbing floors, heavy yard work, and fast dancing can be as effective as jogging and running.
When it comes to breast cancer and physical activity, vigorous exercise is more effective because it helps to regulate hormones such as estrogen, insulin and insulin-like growth factor that play a role in breast cancer.
If you’re not up to vigorous exercise, take a brisk walk for thirty minutes each day. Many studies show that even this more modest degree of activity lower breast cancer risk. The key is to stay active. It’s a breast cancer risk factor you can control.
Medical News Today. “Avoidable Breast Cancer Risk Factors Identified”
Web MD. “Vigorous Exercise Cuts Breast Cancer Risk”