Researchers at the University of Berkeley in California have found that exercise can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by as much as 41.5 per cent.
Women who completed the equivalent of 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise a week benefited from the vastly reduced risk, according to the study.
Previous research has found that exercise reduces risk by around 25 per cent, but this study – which drew from a sample size of almost 80,000 women – discovered a far greater benefit.
The study’s authors wrote that meeting the minimum exercise requirements “reduced substantially” the risk of dying from breast cancer.
This substantial reduction in breast cancer mortality could not be explained by other risk factors, including obesity and contraceptive use.
CEO of Cancer Council Australia Professor Ian Olver confirmed that the results are definitive and “in line” with other reliable research.
“It’s not as though we’re finding a 0.01 per cent difference or something like that,” said Professor Olver.
“The idea that exercise is associated with a reduced mortality in breast cancer is emerging from a number of studies.”
Exercise is associated with a reduced mortality in breast cancer
While this study found no additional benefit between walking and running, Professor Olver said that other research is finding that intensity matters.
“The trending of other studies is to suggest that vigorous is actually better for you in that regard than lesser exercise,” Professor Olver said.
Exercise is not the only lifestyle choice you can make to reduce your breast cancer risk, according to Professor Olver.
“Other lifestyle factors like reducing alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight by a healthy diet, both of those have also been found to impact on breast cancer,” he said.
Olver recommended 40 minutes of vigorous exercise a day.
The benefits of exercise were the same regardless of cup size, but the bad news is that women with larger breast sizes were far more likely to develop the cancer.
Professor Olver explained this secondary finding by saying that abnormal lumps might be easier to detect in smaller breasts, which highlights the importance for all women to undergo breast screening and check regularly for breast abnormalities.
The study results were published in December of last year, and the authors declared no vested interest in the results.
The New Daily is a proud sponsor of the Mothers’ Day Classic, a fun run and walk, which raises funds for breast cancer research. It will take place on May 11.