Women who are physically active have a reduced risk of getting breast cancer. It’s never too late to do well, because this protective effect is also observed in women who do not practice physical activity until after menopause..
Women who are physically active have a reduced risk of getting breast cancer. According to a major recent study, it’s never too late to do well, because this protective effect is even observed in women who only become active after menopause.
Everyone knows that physical activity provides many health benefits, both physically (aerobic capacity, strength, flexibility) and mentally (stress reduction, cognitive function). What is less known, however, is to what extent regular exercise is also one of the best ways to significantly reduce the risk of cancer.
Breast cancer: 25% reduction in risk thanks to physical activity
A very large number of studies have clearly demonstrated that people who are the most physically active see their risk of being affected by several cancers being considerably reduced compared to those who have a sedentary lifestyle.
This protective effect is particularly well documented for colon and breast cancers, with average risk reductions of 25% observed in dozens of studies. Several data suggest that endometrial, ovarian, lung and prostate cancers are also less common in active people. Being physically active is therefore not limited to moving the muscles; it is above all an action that induces a series of biochemical and physiological changes capable of creating an inhospitable climate for cancer cells that interferes with their progression into advanced cancer.
Simple physical activity, such as walking, is best
One of the most interesting aspects of physical activity is that its positive impact on health is very rapid, with benefits observed as soon as you adopt an active lifestyle. For example, in a study of 59,308 postmenopausal women, a team of French scientists observed that those who engaged in four hours of moderate activity per week saw their risk of invasive breast cancer (the aggressive form of this cancer) decrease by 10%. This protection, however, was only observed in women who were active at the time of the study: those who exercised regularly when they were younger, but who had stopped in the last few years were not of the all protected. To take advantage of the anti-cancer effects of physical activity, the most important thing is to do it regularly, regardless of the age at which you start, and to maintain these good habits for as long as possible.
And you absolutely have to stop thinking that you have to achieve athletic prowess or become a fitness freak in order to reap the benefits of exercise! It is brisk walking, an activity that is within everyone’s reach, which was the activity most commonly adopted by women and which is associated with a reduction in risk.
Risk of recurrence reduced by 45%
Regular physical activity is particularly important for women who have been affected by breast cancer and want to prevent recurrences. A large number of studies show unequivocally that breast cancer survivors who are the most physically active also live the longest, with mortality reduced by half compared to those who are inactive. And here again, it’s never too late to start moving: Remarkably, survivors who were inactive before being affected by the disease, but who decide to include regular physical activity in their habits have 45% less risk of dying prematurely than if they had remained inactive.
Exercising is too often perceived only as a way to “burn” calories to maintain the line or eliminate a few extra pounds. The major impact of physical activity on the risk of developing breast cancer or dying from its recurrence illustrates how the benefits of an active life go beyond simply maintaining a normal body weight. Physical activity is truly an essential ingredient in cancer prevention!
Fournier A et al. Recent recreational physical activity and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women in the E3N cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. ; 23: 1893-902.
Ballard-Barbash R et al. Physical activity, biomarkers, and disease outcomes in cancer survivors: a systematic review. Jnl Nat Cancer Inst; 104:815-40.
70% of cancers are preventable
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