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Even gentle exercise helps prevent breast cancer

By Bunmi Sofola

Walking for just an hour a day can more than halve a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, a study has shown. Women who walk regularly and take further gentle exercise for at least an hour a week are 55 per cent  more likely to reduce the risk of a tumour than those who never work out.

The findings back earlier studies, which suggest even gentle exercise is crucial in helping to prevent the disease.

Thousands of women each year are diagnosed with breast cancer, which kills about  a quarter of its victims. It affects one in ten women at some point in their lives. Risk factors range from being overweight and having a family history of the disease, to smoking and going through the menopause. The study, by Nagoya city University in Japan, tracked 30,000 women over 12 years to monitor their lifestyle habits and risk of cancer.

Each was asked whether their daily walking totalled less than 30 minutes, 30 to 59 minutes, or an hour or more. The results, published in the Journals Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarker and Prevention, found that those who walked at least an hour a day and then went jogging, swimming or to the gym for another hour once a week, were substantially less likely to have cancer. The researchers said: “We recommend walking for one hour a day, along with additional weekly exercise, to protect against breast cancer, regardless of menopause status or body mass index.”

Higher risk women, such as those who are overweight or post-menopausal, benefited as much from daily strolls as those at lower-risk, they added. A spokesman for Cancer Research UK said that maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the best ways to reduce the risks of breast cancer. This is because fat tissue in those who are overweight produces more hormones and growth factors than in slimmer people. High levels of some of these hormones, including oestrogen and insulin, can increase the risk of certain cancers.




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