(NaturalNews) Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women and accounts for around 40,000 deaths per year. Breast cancer risk is determined by multiple factors including age, race, gender, and family history. Besides these factors that are uncontrollable, there are also risk factors that can be controlled or changed. These include alcohol use, smoking, diet, weight and exercise. Exercise has been the focus of many recent studies to determine how much it affects risk of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is known to feed off estrogen; it has been discovered that women with decreased estrogen levels have a lowered risk for breast cancer. Women who have ever been pregnant or breastfed have a lower risk of breast cancer because of the lowered estrogen levels during these times. Suspended menstrual cycles result in a decrease in estrogen levels, therefore each pregnancy and breastfeeding results in a lifetime decrease of breast cancer.
Exercise has been shown to reduce blood estrogen levels. Studies done have shown that after twelve months of regular exercise blood estrogen levels drop an average of about 13% in women who lose at least two pounds. The drop in estrogen is directly related to the decrease in fat because fat cells, in particular adipose cells, produce estrogen.
The National Cancer Institute found out that vigorous exercise (aerobics, jogging, heavy yard work or house work and biking) reduces the risk of breast cancer about 30%. Light or moderate exercise was not found to have the same effect.
A study being conducted now at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School is specifically looking at how exercise reduces the risk for women with genetic mutations to the BRCA gene that puts them at a higher risk for breast cancer
. Eighty percent of women who carry these mutations will develop either breast or ovarian cancer. Options for reducing the risk for these women is quite drastic - either mastectomy or removal of the ovaries. The study aims to find out if exercise
could at least decrease risk enough that these women could either delay such drastic surgeries and their side-effects or put them off all together.
Because of the prevalence of breast cancer
and the limited prophylactic options for women with high risk, the link between exercise and breast cancer risk is promising. In addition to the effects on estrogen exercise also provides numerous other health benefits and stress reduction which can also be helpful in reducing risk
for any chronic disease.
CDC, Breast Cancer Statistics (http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/statistics/
Study Examines Power of Exercise to Prevent Breast Cancer (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04...
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Breast Cancer Risk (http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/news/2008...
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