As of 2013, more than 2.8 million women have been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer across the United States, which includes 232,340 new cases that were diagnosed in 2013. And while the incidence of breast cancer has decreased, the number of women suffering from the disease is staggering. But now, thanks to new research, a hope is on the horizon that will help women safeguard themselves against this deadly disease. What is it? Women everywhere can reduce their risk of developing breast cancer with daily exercise.
Could it really be that simple? According to researchers in France at the Strathclyde Institute for Global Public Health, yes, it could be that simple. A review of 37 studies that were conducted over the course of 26 years, from 1987 to 2013, involving more than 4 million women from all around the world left researchers with findings that were nothing short of astonishing. Women who led an active lifestyle and exercised regularly were less likely to develop breast cancer. The study showed that by simply exercising vigorously for at least one hour every day, women were able to reduce their risk for developing breast cancer by as much as 12 percent. Other studies showed numbers as high as 25 percent; however, Research Director, Mathieu Boniol at the Strathclyde Institute believes 12 percent is a more accurate analysis.
But what about those women who cannot exercise vigorously every day? While an hour of vigorous exercise every day is not realistic for everyone, the study showed that some physical activity is better than nothing at all. The key is to get some physical activity every day whether it be from work, an active daily lifestyle, exercising, or playing sports, and for those who do, the risk of developing breast cancer is still reduced simply by engaging in some degree of physical activity.
The study findings were presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference on Thursday in Glasgow, Scotland. And while scientists admit that they do not know why physical activity helps to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer; they speculate there is a correlation between daily exercise and its effects on hormones and inflammation. Dr. Hilary Hobson, conference chair, said, “These findings are important for all women, irrespective of their age and weight. And while the potentially protective effect of physical activity is unknown, the analysis provides women with a real impetus to increase their physical activity by even a modest amount.”
Previous research has shown that physical activity helps protect the body against heart disease and other forms of cancer. Now, breast cancer, even the aggressive types, can also be added to that list, which Boniol said, “should encourage cities and communities to foster sports by becoming bike- and walk-friendly. And it should aid in the creation of new sports facilities and promote exercise through education.”
Boniol went on to say that daily exercise is a “low-cost, simple strategy” for women that will help them reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, a disease that is “currently very high cost, both to health care systems and to patients and their families.”
By Donna W. Martin