Exercise Helps Prevent Breast Cancer
Studies Show Exercise May Lower Risk and Help Those With Breast Cancer Cope
23% Less Likely
The women who reported getting more than six weekly hours of strenuous
recreational physical activity were 23% less likely to have breast cancer,
compared to sedentary women, the study shows.
Exercise appeared to benefit women, regardless of age.
But the benefits were only seen in those with no family history of breast
The results held after adjusting for other breast cancer risk factors.
The study doesn't prove that exercise single-handedly prevented breast
cancer or show how exercise may lower breast cancer risk.
The effects of exercise on hormones and weight may help, the researchers
They note that they don't know if the women accurately recalled their
Exercise for Breast Cancer Patients
The second study comes from researchers including Nanette Mutrie, PhD,
professor of exercise and sport psychology at the University of Strathclyde in
They studied 203 women with early-stage breast cancer who were 51 years old,
on average, and hadn't been exercising.
The patients had had breast cancer surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy) and
were getting chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to help prevent their
First, the women completed surveys about their mood and quality of life.
They also took a 12-minute walking test and had their shoulder mobility
Next, Mutrie's team split the women into two groups.
One group participated in a 12-week group exercise program. The other group
wasn't asked to exercise.
Group Exercise Program
The women in the exercise group met twice weekly for 45-minute exercise
classes. They were also encouraged to work out once a week on their own at
For the first six weeks of their 12-week program, the exercise group
gathered after classes to discuss topics such as setting goals and the health
benefits of exercise.
Both groups of women repeated the psychological and physical tests at the
end of the 12-week program and again six months later.
Those in the exercise group had improved their scores on the physical tests
and also reported being in a better mood and coping better with breast cancer.
Those benefits generally held at the six-month follow-up.
It's not clear how much of the benefits were due to the workouts or to the
social aspect of group exercise.
However, the researchers say doctors "should encourage activity for
patients with cancer," and that future studies should also investigate
home-based exercise programs, which may be more convenient for some
The study appears in BMJ Online First. BMJ was formerly called the
British Medical Journal.