For the first time, AICR research found physical activity beneficial for both pre- and post-menopausal breast cancers. Here’s what you need to know about the latest findings and how they can affect your health.
Physical Activity Lowers Your Cancer Risk
AICR’s latest awareness survey conducted earlier this year found that only four of ten Americans (39 percent) know that physical activity plays a role in cancer risk. Along with breast cancer, physical activity protects against colon and endometrial cancers.
Brisk walking or other daily physical activity is one key step to lower the risk of breast cancer for women of all ages.
Vigorous Activity Can Protect Young Women
AICR’s analysis of the global research now shows that vigorous exercise such as cycling or running helps prevent pre-menopausal breast cancer. In our new report, women who were the most active had a 17 percent lower risk and post-menopausal women had a 10 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who were the least active.
Both vigorous and moderate activities linked to lower risk of post-menopausal breast cancer. Total moderate activity, such as walking and gardening, linked to a 13 percent lower risk when comparing the most versus least active women.
Exercise Promotes a Healthy Weight
Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight by building muscle and burning fat. Women with overweight and obesity have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer after menopause. Evidence suggests that maintaining a healthy weight can also lower the risk of cancer recurrence for survivors.
There are several ways obesity can increase cancer risk. Fat tissue can cause chronic inflammation, which increases cancer risk. Increased blood levels of insulin and related hormones can also play a role in cancer growth.
Take Home Tips
Aim to be active at least 30 minutes every day. If you’re not at that level now, find ways to add more minutes and/or make your activity a little more intense. For example, if you now walk 15 minutes daily, add a few minutes this week, a few more next week and on. Try to walk faster for 1-2 minutes a few times during the walk and if possible build that up each week.