Brisk walkers have lower breast cancer risk: study

Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:03am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Women who take regular brisk walks have a lower risk of developing breast cancer after menopause -- and it's never too late to start, according to a U.S. study.

Research has shown that very active women are less likely to develop breast cancer than their sedentary peers, but little has been known about the effects of moderate exercise and whether less active women who start exercising get similar results.

In a study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, A. Heather Eliassen and a research team at Harvard reviewed data from nearly 100,000 postmenopausal women, following them for 20 years.

There are many risk factors for breast cancer that women have no control over, such as family history of the disease or the age at which they began menstruating, Eliassen told Reuters Health.

But physical activity "is one of the few breast cancer risk factors that women can do something about. And it's never too late."

Over the course of the study, the women reported how active they were and what types of exercise they got.

Those who scheduled at least an hour of brisk walking per day, or an equivalent amount of activity, were 15 percent less likely to get breast cancer than those who walked less than one hour per week.

Brisk walking was defined as roughly three to four miles per hour, at a speed at which it's harder to hold a conversation than when casually strolling.

Even those who got little exercise before menopause but boosted their activity afterwards were 10 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those who stayed inactive.   Continued...