Cut Your Risk of Breast Cancer in Half

Research reveals that menopausal women are more concerned about breast cancer than any other disease, and statistics support that concern. Four out of five breast cancer diagnoses, or 80 percent, occur in women over the age of 50. Fortunately, medical research has found a way to significantly reduce your risk of breast cancer.

The relationship between physical activity and breast cancer incidence has been extensively studied, with over 60 studies published in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The studies indicate that physically active women have a 30-40% lower risk of developing breast cancer than inactive women.

If you are concerned about developing breast cancer, it is important for you to increase physical activity in your life from now on, but this is easier said than done. For many women, this will require both a change in mindset (how you are thinking) and a change in lifestyle.

What is physical activity?

Physical activity is considered to be any muscular movement beyond resting levels. It is an all-encompassing concept that includes any functional activities of daily living or planned leisure pursuits (exercise and sport). Exercise is typically a planned and/or structured physical activity that has an aim. The aim is usually to satisfy a physical, psychological or social need or often a mixture of all three.

To remain healthy and enjoy life after menopause, it is paramount that you adopt a physically active lifestyle. For many women, this requires a change in mindset. The tendency for most people is to slow down with age, reducing our physical activity levels - but the opposite is actually what is needed!

What constitutes a physically active lifestyle?

A woman with a physically active lifestyle may be doing many of the following activities:

  • walk or ride a bicycle, rather than drive, when she needs to go to a local store
  • deliberately park some distance from the entrance to the mall
  • walk up stairs rather than take an escalator or elevator
  • do housework herself rather than pay help to do it
  • do regular yard or garden work
  • go out dancing regularly
  • take long walks
  • do frequent bike rides
  • swim regularly
  • play 1 or more sports
  • do a form of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week

How a physically active lifestyle reduces the risk of breast cancer

Fatty tissue is the primary source of hormones that drives breast cancer after menopause. Exercise leads to a drop in body fat.

Fat also plays a role in the body’s immune and inflammatory responses, both of which are also involved in cancer. Dr Susan Love, MD is a leading authority on breast cancer and the health of menopausal women. She says:

To get breast cancer, you need a mutated cell–a cell you’ve inherited or one that’s been damaged by radiation, a virus, or another carcinogen—and a local environment that’s encouraging the cells to grow. Because exercise naturally decreases levels of inflammation, reduces stress, and helps you maintain a healthy weight, it changes your body chemistry, creating a less hospitable environment for cancer to grow

How to reduce your risk of breast cancer up to 50%

new study has found that if you do more physical activity or exercise per week than the 2.5 hours per week recommended by government guidelines for optimum health, you will reduce your risk of breast cancer even more.

The study involved 400 postmenopausal women. Half of these women were put on a regimen that involved 2.5 hours of aerobic activity per week, and the other half were put on a regimen of twice as much aerobic activity – 5 hours per week. Nothing was done to change, regulate or monitor the women’s diets.

The results showed a reduction in risk of breast cancer of 50 percent in the women who did 5 hours of physical activity or exercise per week compared to those who did 2.5 hours per week. The researchers concluded this was because they lost more body fat, which is the source of the hormones that encourage the growth of breast cancer cells.

The lead researcher of the study concluded:

  1. The government guidelines of 2.5 hours of exercise per week was developed to lower the risk of heart disease;
  2. For optimum breast cancer prevention, you are advised to do 5 hours of physical activity/exercise per week

While this study did not monitor diet, it is important to note that diet is also a significant factor in the prevention of breast cancer. A non-optimum diet results in increased storage of fat on your body and increased inflammation in your body, two factors that encourage the growth of breast cancer cells.

Your diet needs to be based upon eating real food. Real food does not need labels, ie, unprocessed meat, fish, milk, eggs, legumes, fruits, grains and vegetables.

If you need even more motivation to adopt a physically active lifestyle for the rest of your life, bear this in mind:

Regular physical activity/exercise cuts your risk of all major chronic illnesses/diseases by up to 50% and reduces your risk of early death by up to 30%

You can enjoy the fruits of life after menopause by adopting a physically active lifestyle from now on. It will also reduce the frequency and severity of the menopause symptoms you may be experiencing now.

This post is reproduced with the permission of Menopause Matters.

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