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Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

Exercise Could Prevent Breast Cancer

June 25, 2012

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — According to the American Cancer Society, about 227,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. A new study shows that even the mildest form of exercise could decrease your risk.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health in Chapel Hill are searching for a link between recreation physical activity, done at different time points in life, and the risk of developing breast cancer.

The study included 1,504 women with breast cancer (233 noninvasive and 1,271 invasive) and 1,555 women without breast cancer who were 20 to 98 years old and were part of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, an investigation of possible environmental causes of breast cancer.

Women who exercised either during their reproductive or postmenopausal years had a reduced risk of developing breast cancer. Women who exercised 10 to 19 hours per week experienced the greatest benefit with an approximate 30% reduced risk. Risk reductions were observed at all levels of intensity, and exercise seemed to preferentially reduce the risk of hormone receptor positive breast cancer (ER or PR positive), which is the most commonly diagnosed tumor type among American women.

“The observation of a reduced risk of breast cancer for women who engaged in exercise after menopause in particularly encouraging given the late age of onset for breast cancer,” Lauren McCullough at the University was quoted saying.

When the researchers looked at the joint effects of physical activity, weight gain, and body size, they found that even active women who gained a significant amount of weight- particularly after menopause- had an increased risk of developing breast cancer, indicating that weight gain can eliminate the beneficial effects of exercise on break cancer risk.

Source: Cancer, June 2012