Can Exercise Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Mothers, sisters, friends and daughters can be affected by breast cancer. Regardless of age, race or economic status, an estimated 180,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and nearly 45,000 will die from the disease. Although there is currently no known cure, researchers are working diligently to give women a fighting chance against this frightening, life-threatening disease.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine examined the role exercise may play in reducing the risk of breast cancer. Researchers analyzed data from the Nurses' Health Study, which followed 121,701 women (aged 30-55) from 1976-1992. Women were surveyed at different points during the study period to gather data on physical activity, including the average number of hours per week spent participating in moderate or vigorous "recreational physical activity" (walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, aerobic dance, tennis, etc.).

Surveys also were used to identify cases of breast cancer during the 16-year study. Women who were more physically active showed a lower risk of breast cancer than women who were less active. The intensity of physical activity did not seem to be as important as consistent activity; women reporting four or more hours of vigorous physical activity each week had only a 10-15% lower risk of breast cancer than women reporting one hour or less of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week.

Early detection of breast cancer can play a major role in saving your life or the life of someone you love, and these research findings suggest that consistent physical activity may help as well. If you'd like more information on the value of health and wellness in preventing disease, make an appointment with your doctor of chiropractic.

Reference - Rockhill B, Willett WC, Hunter DJ, et al. A prospective study of recreational physical activity and breast cancer risk. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1999: Vol. 159, pp2290-2296.

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