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After Menopause, Women May Lower Risk with Strenuous Exercise

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Much research has shown a link between regular, moderately intense exercise and a lower risk of breast cancer. While less intense exercise can benefit your general health, the research suggests that lower-intensity exercise doesn't really lower breast cancer risk.

A study found that only vigorous exercise was linked to a lower risk of breast cancer and only in lean women.

Researchers reviewed health surveys filled out by more than 32,000 postmenopausal women who were part of the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project from 1987 to 1998. The women were asked about their physical activity three times during the 11-year study. The physical activity was determined to be either non-vigorous or vigorous:

  • Non-vigorous activities included walking, washing clothes, and mowing the lawn.
  • Vigorous activities included running, fast jogging, scrubbing floors, and chopping wood.

During the study's 11 years, breast cancer risk was 20% lower in women who did regular vigorous activity AND were lean. Lean was defined as a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25. Learn more about BMI and access a link to an online BMI calculator on the Breastcancer.org Assess Your Weight page.

Along with healthy diet and lifestyle choices, regular moderate-intensity exercise is one of the best steps EVERYONE can take to help keep breast cancer risk as low as it can be. This study also suggests that keeping your weight in the healthy range is important to getting the risk-reducing benefits of exercise. 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.

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