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article imageStudy: Walking lowers breast cancer risk for women

By Mike White     Oct 5, 2013 in Health
Postmenopausal women can lower their risk of breast cancer by walking an hour a day or more, according to a long-term study by the American Cancer Society. Previous studies have shown that regular physical activity can lower the risk by 25%.
CBC reported that the issue of physical activity lowering the chance of lowering the cancer risk by walking, rather than more physical activities, was considered in the study. The Canadian Health Measures Survey reported that less than half of the adults in the country get enough exercise weekly.
The exercise levels of 73,615 postmenopausal were compared in the study, including 4,760 who were diagnosed with breast cancer more than 17 years.
Epidemiologist Alpa Patel of the American Cancer Society said those who participate in walking an hour per day during a week "may reap a modest benefit," even if they do not participate in more rigorous exercise. Patel and her co-authors reported their findings in the journal, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention on Thursday.
"Given that breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women, and that walking is a common activity among postmenopausal women," the findings reported, adding that the results of the study were important for that reason.
About one fewer women out of 1,000 would get breast cancer from walking at a leisurely pace of 4.8 km per day, according to Patel. That reduces the risk by 14 percent.
In addition, Patel added walking at 7.2 km per hour would reduce the risk by 1.6 women per 1,000, according to Patel. That is a reduction of 25 percent.
The study did not consider such factors as body mass index, hormone receptor status or the use of postmenopausal hormones.
The study did not find that sitting time can increase the risk of breast cancer, as previous studies have. Most of the women in the study were homemakers, of an average age of 63, when the study began. For that reason, the study may have not considered all the physical activity the women were involved in. There was a follow-up every two years on the women.
Christine Friedenreich, a cancer epidemiologist at Alberta Health Services Cancer Care, called the results of the study, "empowering." He said that while the results do not offer a promise cancer can be prevented but do show how the risk can be lowered.
In Canada, guidelines show that adults get at least 2.5 hours per week of moderate to intense activity.
CBS reported the women in the study were between 50 to 74 years old.
In addition to breast cancer, previous studies have shown that physical activity can lessen the chances of obesity-related cancers, such as those of the colon, pancreas, thyroid, kidney and gallbladder.
According to, 4,760 of the women in the study developed cancer.
In the United States, the Center for Disease Control recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly. A total of 47 percent of the women in the study reported walking was their only activity.
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