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Regular Exercise Can Lower Breast Cancer Risk

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A study looked at the results of more than 60 research trials examining the link between breast cancer risk and exercise. One thing comes through loud and clear in all these studies: regular exercise can lower breast cancer risk by about 25% to 30%. The benefits of exercise were not the same for all women -- the type and amount of exercise affected the amount of risk reduction.

  • Women who had a healthy weight to height ratio -- body mass index (BMI) -- got more benefits from exercise than women with a higher BMI. This could be because the protective effects of exercise were offset by the increase in risk associated with being overweight.
  • Older, post-menopausal women; non-white women; women who have given birth; and women with no family history of breast cancer got more benefits from regular exercise.
  • Exercise seems to lower the risk of hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer more than it lowers the risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.
  • Vigorous recreational (not done at work) exercise, such as running, bike riding, swimming, etc., lowers breast cancer risk more than physical activity done during work.
  • The more a woman exercised over her lifetime, the more her breast cancer risk was reduced.

Along with healthy diet and lifestyle choices, regularly doing moderately intense exercise during your lifetime is one the best steps you and ALL girls and women can take to help keep breast cancer risk as low as it can be. Regular exercise also helps keep your general health the best that it can be. No matter how old you are, it's never too soon or too late to get moving.

To learn more about how exercise and a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk of breast cancer, visit the Breastcancer.org Breast Cancer Risk Factors: What You Can Do to Lower Risk section.

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