WASHINGTON, DC — October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) are using the occasion to underscore the clear and convincing role regular physical activity plays in lowering breast cancer risk.
“The evidence gathered and analyzed in our expert report and its recent update makes one thing very clear,” said AICR Associate Director for Nutrition Programs Alice Bender, MS, RDN. “When it comes to breast cancer, inactivity is an enemy. Moving more offers powerful protection.”
Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day protects against breast cancer both directly and indirectly, Bender said. Regular activity helps keep in check the blood levels of hormones that could otherwise spur the cancer process. And it also helps fight the buildup of excess body fat; obesity is a known cause of many breast cancers.
In fact, roughly 1 in 5 cases of breast cancer are attributable to carrying excess body fat, according to AICR estimates. Lack of regular physical activity is itself responsible for a similar amount.
Take Small Steps to Protect Yourself
Women can lower their risk by being active and making other lifestyle choices. For women who have a family history of breast cancer, carry the BRCA genes, or who are at greater risk for another reason, focusing on the small, everyday choices that have been shown to lower risk is even more important, not less.
- Move more, in any way, for at least 30 minutes every day
- Get to and stay a healthy weight.
- Do not drink alcohol. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one drink per day.
- If you give birth to children, breastfeed them if possible.
For tips outlining practical ways to follow this advice, visit AICR’s Learn About Breast Cancer resource, an easy to use web section where you can also:
- Find statistics on breast cancer incidence and preventability
- Keep up with AICR’s research on breast cancer prevention and survival
- Get tools for breast cancer patients, survivors and their families
AICR has also released a new infographic, Reduce Your Risk of Breast Cancer, which translates the research into a single image that’s easy to share with others.