Research done at Oxford University has found that 15 minutes of vigorous exercise done daily could reduce the risk of breast cancer by 20%.
The study included 125000 post-menopausal females and found that those women who undertook between 15 and 35 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as jogging, on a daily basis had a much lower risk of developing breast cancer than those who did no vigorous exercise.
The study also discovered that females carrying the highest proportion of body fat were 55% more likely to develop the cancer than leaner women.
However, it was found that being physically active helps reduce the risk of breast cancer, irrespective of the woman’s weight.
The study tracked the lifestyles of 125000 females, of whom approximately 1000 had been diagnosed with breast cancer during three years of follow-up.
Professor Tim Key, a Cancer Research UK scientist based at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University and the lead researcher in this study, said they have known for quite a while that the risk of breast cancer after menopause could be reduced by exercise. However, he said the interesting factor about this particular study is that weight does not appear to play a role, which suggests that there are more direct benefits to women of all sizes exercising regularly.
He said that they are not yet aware of how physical activity reduces the risk of breast cancer, other than helping in the maintenance of a healthy weight, but small studies have suggested that it may be linked to the effect it has on the hormone levels in the body.
Around one in eight women will suffer from the disease, and most of these cases are boosted by oestrogen, the female hormone, and sensitivity to progesterone.
During the study, females in the bottom section of the physical activity quartile were not involved in any vigorous physical activity, such as running or any other activity which left them feeling out of breath, but they may have done moderate physical activity or some walking.
The participants in the top physical activity quartile undertook an average of at least 15 minutes’ vigorous exercise daily, such as running, with several doing exercise for up to 35 minutes each day, along with moderate activity and walking.
The director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK, Alison Cox, said the study confirms that the benefits of physical activity go beyond simply burning calories. She said it sends out a clear message to all females that they should remain physically active throughout their lives.
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