Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women with 1 in 8 women developing the disease in their lifetime. However, there are steps one can take to better the odds.
According to a 20-year Nurses' Health Study of 72,000 female nurses, walking for three hours a week, a mere 30 minutes a day is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine focused on 26,000 women and found similar results with the risk of breast cancer reduced by an amazing 72%.
A joint study from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund found that 40% of all breast cancer cases in the U.S. could be prevented with lifestyle changes which included exercise, proper diet and weight management.
The range of the test results is quite large however the underlying message is clear: walking daily has a dramatically positive impact on a woman's ability to prevent breast cancer.
Walking also assists in weight control which is critical in the prevention of breast cancer. Excess weight is known to increase levels of hormones, estrogen and insulin which are thought to play a role in the development of breast cancer.
Women who are physically fit also reduce their chances of dying from breast cancer, so say researchers at the University of South Carolina. The authors of the study, published in the April 2009 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, recruited more than 14 000 women from 20-83 years of age who had no previous history of breast cancer. "We believe this is the first study to evaluate the association of objectively measured fitness and risk of dying from breast cancer", said Steve Blair, PED, an Arnold School of Public Health researcher.
A study out of the Fred Hutchinson Research Center found that post menopausal women who exercised regularly lower their risk of breast cancer by 20%.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that as many as 18,000 deaths from breast cancer each year in the U.S. could be prevented in women over age 50 by maintaining a healthy weight throughout adulthood.
And it's never too late ( or early) to start. Women should engage in daily physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day. The National Cancer Institute states that women can reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer by 25% if they remain physically active.
Researchers at the German Cancer Center and the University Hospitals of Hamburg-Eppendorf asked 3,464 breast cancer patients and 6,657 women about their physical activity during 2 periods: from 30 to 49 years of age and after age 50. They found that the regular exercisers were less likely to be breast cancer patients and discovered that women who were more active later in life reduced their breast cancer risk to an even greater extent than women who exercised more in their 30s.
"Our advice to all women is therefore to stay or become physically active also in the second half of your life," says Associate Professor Dr. Karen Steindorf, one of the researchers involved in the study, known as the MARIE study. "You'll not only reduce your risk of breast cancer, but it has been proven that your bones, heart, and brain will benefit from it."
The researchers also looked to see whether there was any correlation between physical activity --or the lack of it – and breast cancer type. They found that women who were more active since age 50 were less likely to be diagnosed with hormone-receptor positive breast cancer than women who were less active since age 50.
They also discovered that this link held regardless of body mass index or weight gain. Based on this evidence, the researchers suspect that the risk reduction may be related to changes in hormonal pathways.
These studies contain powerful information that currently is not heeded by most Americans. Walking is critical to optimum health and disease prevention yet few of us walk enough during the day to maintain health.
Why? The number one cited reason for not walking during the day or participating in any exercise is lack of time. Treadmill desks answer this problem and offer a means for individuals to walk ALL day at their desk if they desire.
If the population focused more on healing themselves through diet and exercise diseases such as cancer would show a precipitous decline.