Research finds that women who walk in their 30s, 40s and beyond can greatly reduce their risk of breast cancer. Studies have been done to evaluate the association of breast cancer with exercise during adult life, including quantity, frequency, and age.
One such study was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This study was conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative.
Researchers studied over 74,000 women, ages 50 – 79, to see how their level of activity and exercise at different times in their lives affected their risk of getting breast cancer.
These women were followed for approximately five years to see who developed breast cancer. It was noted that women who exercised regularly or engaged in strenuous activity at age 35 had a 14% reduction in risk compared to inactive women.
Women who walked briskly (2 – 3 mph) 1.5 to 2.5 hours per week had an 18% reduction in their risk of developing breast cancer. Of course, walking 10 or more hours per week rendered slightly greater
reductions in risk. However, the study did show that women with BMIs (Body Mass Index) of 24.1 or lower had the greatest impact for reducing their risk of getting breast cancer. They experienced a 30%
decrease in their risk when they walked briskly for a few hours per week.
Women who were overweight or with BMIs of 25 – 29.9 needed to exercise more than 3 hours a week to see any benefits from walking to reduce risks. The research showed that obese women with BMIs over 30 didn’t see any reduction in risk as a result of walking or exercising regularly. Click here to calculate your BMI.
The research concluded that more strenuous regular exercise reduced women’s breast cancer risk. Researchers hope that this moderate to light level of activity will be more achievable for most women as a method of risk reduction. Researchers speculate that exercise helps reduce body fat, which lowers levels of estrogen, a hormone that stimulates the growth of most breast tumors.
Incorporating a weight loss plan with the weekly exercise regime could greatly improve the numbers for women who are overweight or obese. In the same issue of JAMA, another study concluded that 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week, along with eating right is all that is necessary for women to lose weight — though more exercise may be better.
The findings also suggest that it’s never too late to start exercising. An exercise as easy and simple as walking reduces breast cancer risks dramatically. If you are very obese, are unfit, or have some health problems, make sure you check with a health care professional before increasing your physical activity.