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Breast Cancer & Exercise
Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Breast cancer is the 2nd most frequent type of cancer, and it affects over 10% of women in their lifetime. Over 1 million individuals, including breast cancer patients, survivors, and supporters, are expected to participate in a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K this year. This annual event raises breast cancer awareness and also raises money for research aimed at finding a cure for this common and devastating illness.
Some encouraging news for participants is that while physical activity itself is not a cure for breast cancer, it is being shown to be beneficial. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, investigators found that women with breast cancer who walked 3-5 hours a week, at a moderate pace, had a better survival after 10 years and experienced fewer breast cancer recurrences compared with those who did not exercise. These researchers concluded that women with breast cancer who are physically active lived longer than those that are sedentary.
Other research has shown that being more physically active decreases the chance of developing breast cancer. Research has shown that 4 hours of weekly exercise can significantly reduce the probability of breast cancer. In one study, the drop in breast cancer risk was 30%.
Some risk factors for breast cancer cannot be changed, such as family history and genetics. There are other factors that may play a role in the development of breast cancer, such as obesity and lifestyle, which may be modified. Exercise can be helpful in reducing breast cancer risk and improving survival in those who have breast cancer by reducing estrogen levels, combating obesity, and strengthening the immune system. Reducing alcohol consumption and increasing fruit and vegetable intake can also help in reducing the chance of developing this illness. So consider taking a walk with others in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure this Spring. It really is a step towards a cure.The following articles address the value of physical activity for breast cancer prevention and breast cancer survival:
- JAMA - Holmes, M.D. et al. (2005) / Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 293, No. 20, 2479-2486.
- Bianchini, F. et al. (2002). Weight control and physical activity in cancer prevention. Obesity Reviews. 3, 5-8.
- Psycho-Oncology. 2005: 14 (6): 464-77 Exercise manages fatigue during breast cancer treatment. A randomized controlled study.
- Hutnick NA, Williams NI, Kraemer WJ, Orsega-Smith E, Dixon RH, Bleznak AD, Mastro AM. (2005 Nov ) Exercise and lymphocyte activation following chemotherapy for breast cancer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 37(11):1827-35.
- Barklay, Lauri. March 2006. Cancer. Weight training may improve quality of life in breast cancer survivors.