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Leisurely walking significantly lowers breast cancer risk: How much is best?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Walking reduces breast cancer risk substantially, study finds

A simple intervention like walking can substantially reduce the chances that you will get breast cancer after menopause, finds a new study.

And the good news for all women, is you don't have to change your lifestyle to include a vigorous exercise routine to get the benefits.

Women who walk one hour a day just leisurely were found in the study to have a 14 percent lower risk of the disease.

Dr Alpa Patel, a senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta Georgia, who led the study, said: "Given that more than 60% of women report some daily walking, promoting walking as a healthy leisure-time activity could be an effective strategy for increasing physical activity amongst post-menopausal women.

And there are plenty of ways to do that when you add up grocery shopping, parking farther away from entrances to stores, walking to visit a neighbor or just going for a leisurely stroll and window shopping at the mall.

If you do enjoy a bit more vigorous activity, you will lower your risk of breast cancer even more, the study found.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, said the study shows that even small lifestyle changes can make a difference in lowering our risk for breast cancer, adding that the best way to overcome the disease is to “prevent it in the first place”.

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Surprisingly, a high percentage of women don’t know if they are at risk for the disease, found in a recent survey of 10,000 women.

We know diet can play a role in thwarting cancer of the breast. Focusing on whole food instead of supplements, especially from the Mediterranean diet has benefits for decreasing a variety of diseases, including cancer.

For the current study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers followed 70,000 post-menopausal women from 1992 to 2009. Nearly 50 percent said walking was their only activity.

The finding also supports past studies showing walking is good therapy for cancer prevention.

What increases our risk of breast cancer? Does deodorant raise the risk? Can soy products promote the return of breast cancer?

Wendy Chen, MD, MPH, a breast cancer expert at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute shares some information, saying there is so much misinformation about the disease that it can confuse women.

The newest finding is good news for women because enjoying a walk is easy to do for anyone.Take a buddy with you and make walking one hour a day a part of your daily and you will cut your breast cancer risk by 14 percent.

Image credit: Pixabay

Updated October 5, 2013