Breakthrough study finds exercise slashes risk of breast cancer

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A breakthrough study has found that women who do more exercise are less likely to develop breast cancer before going through menopause. 

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research analysed data from women who reported how much exercise they did during their leisure time and found “solid evidence” that those partaking in activities such as walking, running, and sports, had a lower risk of developing breast cancer. 

The study was carried out by examining the amount of physical activity self-reported by 547,602 pre-menopausal women, who were then followed up on for 11-and-a-half years on average.

During this period of over a decause, 10,231 of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer before they went through the menopause.

Once the study concluded, researchers were able to rank the data and discovered the women in the top 10 per cent of those most active were 10 per cent less likely to develop breast cancer before going through menopause, in comparison with the least active women.

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Dr Michael Jones, senior staff scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research, added: “This new research provides us with solid evidence that greater leisure-time physical activity is associated with lower risk of breast cancer in younger women.”

However, other factors such as genetics are still at play when determining someone’s risk of developing cancer. Dr Jones said: “It’s important to remember that breast cancer risk is influenced by several factors, including genetics, lifestyle and environment, and many of these are out of our control.”

There is now mounting evidence to suggest that exercising, however that may be, can reduce people’s risk of developing cancer. This new study, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, adds to that existing research.

Dr Jones said: “Our research adds to the evidence that engagement in higher levels of leisure-time physical activity may lead to reduced premenopausal breast cancer risk.

“We still need to better understand the biology behind the link between physical activity and reduced breast cancer risk, but these findings add to the strong body of evidence showing that being physically active is good for our health.”

According to NHS England, about one in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, most of whom will be over 50.

NHS England says that roughly one in seven women will face a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, and most of these women will be over 50. 

Dr Simon Vincent, director of research, support and influencing at Breast Cancer Now, which funded the study, said: “Breast cancers in younger women tend to be more aggressive and diagnosed at a later stage, so we urgently need to find new ways to prevent people from developing the disease.

“This research highlights how vital it is that we support women to start making small, healthy lifestyle changes that can positively impact their health and help lower their risk of breast cancer.”

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