Exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer in older women

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A new study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that regular physical activity decreases the risk of developing breast cancer in postmenopausal women.


Researchers followed postmenopausal women in France for an average of eight and a half years. Those women who had performed regular exercise equivalent to four hours of walking or cycling per week were ten percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer compared with those who did not perform regular exercise.


The decrease in risk was not impacted by other factors like body fat, weight, waist circumference, and degree of exercise from five to nine years prior to the study. This risk diminished if exercise was not continued, and therefore, postmenopausal women should be encouraged to continue regular exercise. The study also demonstrated that walking 30 minutes every day, rather than intense exercise, can be very helpful.


Researchers did not understand the exact reason for the decreased risk, but they suggest that these women may have lived a healthier lifestyle compared with those who did not regularly exercise. Nevertheless, including exercise in a postmenopausal woman's lifestyle may improve her health and decrease her risk of developing breast cancer.

Exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer in older women
Older women may want to start and maintain a regular exercise regimen.

Older women intent on keeping breast cancer at bay may want to start and maintain a regular exercise regimen, a new study shows. The researchers found that regular physical activity cuts the odds of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, but that protection disappears if women stop exercising.

One expert wasn't surprised by the findings. "As a breast surgeon, one of my roles is to discuss prevention strategies for women," said Dr. Alison Estabrook, chief of the division of breast surgery at Mount Sinai St. Luke's and Mount Sinai Roosevelt hospitals in New York City.

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