October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re joining in on the conversation about breast cancer prevention and risk factors. As with most illnesses, breast cancer has avoidable risk factors (like smoking) and unavoidable ones (like genetics). By avoiding certain risk factors and taking preventative measures, you can significantly lower your risk of breast cancer.
Numerous recent studies have shown that one of the best ways to reduce your breast cancer risk is to incorporate physical exercise into your daily routine. Additionally, regular exercise can reduce the chances of recurrence if you’ve ever been diagnosed with breast cancer. So just how much of a difference does exercise make? Quite a bit. Women who regularly exercise have a 10 to 20 percent lower breast cancer risk than women who are inactive.
You might be wondering exactly how regular exercise affects breast cancer risk. Some research points to the connection between physical activity and estrogen levels. Body fat stores estrogen, and exercise reduces your stores of body fat. Lower levels of estrogen can protect against breast cancer, and for postmenopausal women, being lean alone can lower their risk factor. Additionally, researchers have observed that physical activity can boost your immune system, helping your body kill or slow the growth of cancer cells.
On the other hand, a German study published in 2008 found that, regardless of weight loss, exercise on its own can still impact your breast cancer risk.
No matter how it helps, exercise is a key weapon in the fight against breast cancer. So just how much exercise do you need to reduce your risk? According to the American Cancer Society, 2.5 hours a week of moderate physical activity is all it takes to reduce your risk. That means by simply taking a 30-minute walk each day, you can impact your risk factor by 3 percent.
And the more you exercise, the more you can reduce your risk factor. For example, it’s been shown that women who exercise four or more hours a week have a lowered risk of breast cancer. Keep in mind that working out doesn’t have residual effects on your breast cancer risk factor—meaning if you stop exercising, your body will stop experiencing the benefits of lower breast cancer risk.
Walking is an excellent way to start up an exercise routine if you don’t currently have one. Simply taking a 30-minute walk before or after work each day will put you on the path toward lowered breast cancer risk.
When it comes to maintaining a regular workout routine, keeping things interesting is crucial. Keep things fresh by changing up the type, location or time of your workout. You might even invite a friend or family member to join you a few days per week. Even if you currently have breast cancer, research shows that low-intensity exercise is perfectly safe and can improve your overall quality of life and cancer-related fatigue.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re older and haven’t ever kept up a regular workout routine. Even if you don’t begin exercising until later in life, doing so has the power to reduce your risk by more than 20 percent.
Pay a visit to the Goshen Health Center for Cancer Care to learn more about lowering your risk for breast cancer.
Posted: 10/12/2015 by
Filed under: Awareness, Breast, Cancer, Cancer Care, exercise