Exercise and Breast Cancer Risk

Sharon Rekieta, Fitness and Wellness Director - 12th October 2012

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many are thinking about the various risk factors and wondering if lifestyle changes would help prevent breast cancer.  One lifestyle change receiving attention is the effect of exercise on preventing cancer.

Numerous studies have shown that breast cancer prevention starts with healthy habits such as staying or becoming physically active.  One study that included the exercise history of 15,000 women showed that those who engaged in strenuous activity more than six hours a week (and did not have a family history) were 23% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who did not workout at all.

Other studies have shown that women who exercised at a moderate or vigorous level at least three hours each week reduced their risk of getting breast cancer by 30 to 40 percent.

A study of more than 3,000 women from Long Island, N.Y., found that women who engaged in 10 to 19 hours of at least mild exercise per week from their reproductive years on had about a 30 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer.

It is important to note that researchers and physicians are NOT promising that exercise will totally prevent breast cancer.  And they are also not claiming that a lack of exercise will cause breast cancer.

However, the evidence linking exercise to a reduced risk for breast cancer is mounting and the take-home message is that women should engage in 30-minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.

So if you’re concerned about breast cancer, becoming or staying physically active may be your first step in reducing your risk!