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Moderate Exercise Protects Against Breast Cancer and Death from All Causes

Monday, April 13, 2009 by: Barbara L. Minton
Tags: cancer prevention, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Scientists have long known there is a link between exercise and health. Even the connection between exercise and breast cancer has been well established. Early studies showed that women who exercised like mad were able to reduce their risk of breast cancer. This was because they exercised to the point where their estrogen production was slowed or stopped, reducing the possibility of estrogen imbalance in the body. This information was not too useful for most women who had neither time nor inclination to exercise like professional athletes. But now there is good news for everyone. Recent studies have shown that even moderate exercise has a profound effect on breast cancer prevention and prognosis, and a positive effect against death for all causes.

Moderate exercise has a dramatic impact on breast cancer development

A group from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina confirmed results from their previous study that even moderate exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer. They examined the association between cardio-respiratory fitness and risk of death from breast cancer in women who participated in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study from 1970 to 2001. Over 14,000 women aged 20 to 83 with no prior history of breast cancer were classified according to their performance on treadmill tests and other exams as low, moderate or highly fit depending on their results. The findings showed that women in poor physical condition were three times more likely to die from breast cancer than those who exercised regularly.

One half hour of daily aerobic exercise can make a person highly fit

It does not require hours of grueling daily workout on a treadmill to get into the highly fit category. This study measured fitness through aerobic exercise, a type of workout that aims for a sustained increase in heart and lung activity that allows for the burning of fat. When exercise becomes so grueling that muscle is burned, it is no longer considered to be aerobic. Any activity that gets a person moving for a sustained period with increased heart and lung action, such as walking, jogging, cleaning, gardening, dancing, or doing calisthenics will qualify as aerobic. Jogging in front of the TV set will even get the job done.

Aerobic exercise can actually be very enjoyable and invigorating. It promotes the circulation of oxygen in the blood and floods cells with enough oxygen to chase cancer away. Aerobics helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Mood and outlook are uplifted with this form of exercise, and sense of well being and feelings of empowerment are heightened. The mind is cleared and the ability to concentrate is restored.

A half hour a day of aerobic exercise can result in a person being classified as highly fit. Fifteen minutes a day is all it takes to achieve moderate fitness. Just waving the arms about in imitation of an orchestra leader while listening to music for fifteen minutes a day can even make a person moderately fit. Aerobic exercise has the added benefits of easy weight loss and a price tag of zero.

Exercise is associated with positive outcome from hormone sensitive breast cancer

In another study from the University of South Carolina, scientists examined the association between physical activity and hormone receptor-defined breast cancers in a population of Asian women. Participants, ages 25 to 64 years, were recruited into the Shanghai Breast Cancer Study, a population-based study conducted in China. Women with confirmed breast cancer and available receptor status information, and matched controls completed in-person interviews. Regression measures were used to model the association between measures of physical activity with each breast cancer subtype, (ER/PR positive, ER/PR negative, ER positive and PR negative, and ER negative and PR positive) using the control population as the reference group.

Results showed that exercise during adolescence and also during the most recent 10 years was associated with a decreased risk of both receptor-positive and receptor-negative breast cancer in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women (odds ratios were 0.44, 0.51, 0.43, and 0.21 respectively). Sweating during exercise within the most recent 10 years was also associated with decreased risk for receptor-positive and receptor-negative breast cancers among postmenopausal women (odds ratios 0.58 and 0.28 respectively). These findings suggest that exercise can reduce breast cancer risk through both hormonal and non-hormonal pathways.

Exercise reduces risk of death from all causes

A study from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark studied inflammation as a key player in the development of degenerative diseases such as breast cancer, colon cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Given that regular exercise offers protection against all causes of mortality through its ability to protect against insulin resistance, the scientists suggested that exercise may exert some of its beneficial effects by inducing anti-inflammatory cytokines, which they have labeled myokines. Interleukin-6 is the first identified myokine. It is produced and released by skeletal muscle fibers when they contract with exercise, and exerts its beneficial effects on other organs of the body. These scientists suggest that skeletal muscle qualifies to be an endocrine organ, and myokines may be involved in promoting beneficial effects against all degenerative diseases associated with inflammation, including cancer.

For more information see:

JB Peel et al, "A Prospective Study of Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Breast Cancer Mortality", Medical Science and Sports Exercise, April, 2009.

SA Adams et al, "Association of Physical Activity with Hormone Receptor Status: The Shanghai Breast Cancer Study", Cancer Epidemiological Biomarkers and Prevention, June, 2006.

N Mather et al, "Exercise as a Mean to Control Low-Grade Systemic Inflammation", Mediator of Inflammation, 2008.

About the author

Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.

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