Heavy Breathing Can Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Written by on April 21, 2013 in Health - No comments | Print this page

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Reduce Breast CancerIf you’re female and you need still another reason to exercise, consider this:  You can reduce your breast cancer risk by as much as 30% if you get regular, vigorous exercise.  The caveat, however, is that it only works for normal weight women.  If you pork out, you lose out.

One study of over 30,000 post-menopausal women concluded that a sedentary lifestyle was a significant risk factor for breast cancer, even in women who are not obese.

The study followed the women for 11 years and found that vigorous activity before and after menopause, including household chores like washing windows, scrubbing floors, strenuous yard work, chopping wood and digging, may protect women from getting breast cancer.

Vigorous activity also includes strenuous exercise or sports such as fast jogging, running, playing tennis, bicycling, aerobics and dance exercise classes, for those not terribly fond of household chores or lucky enough to have hired help to do that sort of work.

While this particular study concluded that light housework and other less vigorous activity was not protective, a later, somewhat smaller study found that even women who got lesser amounts of exercise received some amount of protective benefits against breast cancer.  The greatest benefits, however, according to both studies, were received by women who accumulated 10 to 19 hours of exercise per week, with a risk reduction of approximately 30%.

Obesity Mitigates Exercise Benefits

Unfortunately, the benefits of exercise in reducing risk of breast cancer seemed to be only experienced in women of “normal” weight.  Obesity, it would seem, cancels out the benefits of exercise, at least with regard to breast cancer.  One theory is that women who are obese consume greater amounts of estrogen-laced fast food so prevalent in the American diet, increasing their overall breast cancer risk.

While it has become clear through these studies that physical activity before and after menopause does reduce breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women, there are still many questions to be answered, such as:

  • How often, how intense and how long does the physical activity need to be conducted in order to receive benefits?
  • Does the benefit affect women of all body types?
  • Does exercise reduce the risk of all types of breast cancer, or only certain kinds?
  • Why does obesity cancel out the benefits of exercise?

Another possible explanation as to why women who are obese do not receive the same benefit is that obesity significantly increases a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer.  Obese women may have an increased exposure to growth factors, poorer immune function, and suffer from more chronic inflammation, three factors that increase breast cancer risk.  Also, heavier women are more likely to report light, non-vigorous activity as being more vigorous than it really is.

Whatever the case, a significantly reduced risk of acquiring breast cancer is another great reason to get out and shake that booty!  Not enough time?  Try these time saving exercises:

  • Don’t park so close – park on the other side of the lot when shopping, and if you only have a few bags, try carrying them to the car instead of pushing the cart.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
  • Do squats in the kitchen while you’re waiting for something to finish cooking.
  • Get out and play with your children, or walk your dog.
  • Take a brisk walk during your coffee break, or take a short exercise class during your lunch hour.

Every little bit of exercise will burn calories, which in turn will reduce your weight and your risk of breast cancer both!

Dan Clay is a fitness boot camp specialist and owner of Dangerously Fit. If you would like to register for a boot camp in Balmoral or a trial workout, go here for more info.

Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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