(HealthDay News) — Walking for as little as an hour per day can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women, according to a study published in the October issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Janet S. Hildebrand, M.P.H., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data on recreational physical activity and leisure-time sitting from 73,615 postmenopausal women, of whom 4,760 were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1992 and 2009.

After adjusting for a number of factors, the researchers found a significant association between greater recreational activity and reduced cancer risk (25 percent lower for the most active compared with the least active). A similar association was found among the 47 percent of women who reported that walking was their only recreational activity (14 percent lower for the most active compared with the least active). Breast cancer risk was unaffected by sitting time, estrogen receptor status, body mass index, weight gain, or use of postmenopausal hormones.

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“Given that breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women, and that walking is a common activity among postmenopausal women, the finding of a possible lower risk with an average one or more hours/day of walking is of considerable public health interest,” Hildebrand and colleagues conclude.

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