BistroMD Health Library

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Breast Cancer

You might be surprised to learn that breast cancer is on the rise in both men and women. Learn the facts about breast cancer, as well as the importance of early detection in saving lives.

Breast Cancer and Exercise: The Amount Needed to Reduce Risk

Breast cancer affects nearly one in eight American women. And while breast cancer is significantly more prevalent in women, males can be at risk as well. There are a plethora of risk factors leading to breast cancer development. Although some factors are unmodifiable, making dietary changes and partaking in exercise may lessen the rates and recurrence of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer and Exercise: The Amount Needed to Reduce Risk


Breast cancer affects nearly one in eight American women, with 252,710 new cases prospected to be diagnosed in 2017. And while breast cancer is significantly more prevalent in women, males have about a one out of 1,000 risk of breast cancer. There are a plethora of risk factors leading to breast cancer development, including genetics, age, and lifestyle choices. Although some factors are unmodifiable, making dietary changes and partaking in exercise may lessen the rates and recurrence of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer and Exercise

Exercise is a touted practice to ward off various health conditions, cancer included. And when it comes to breast cancer, regular exercise has shown to lower its development, even cutting the risk up to 20 percent! Both the American Cancer Society (ACS) and American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 150 minutes of physical activity each week, translating to 30 minutes five out of the seven days. The ACS further suggests even walking 30 minutes a day has shown to decrease breast cancer risk by about three percent. The link to lowering breast cancer and exercise is primary related to...

...weight control.
Along with a well-balanced diet, regular exercise can help control weight. Being lean has shown to lower the risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause.

...lowered estrogen levels.
Research has connected a significant link to high estrogen levels and breast cancer risk. Exercise may lower estrogen levels, subsequently lowering the likelihood of breast cancer.

...boosted immune system.
A strong and equipped immune system can kill or slow cancer cells, with exercise showing to boost immunity.

Exercise for Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors

If diagnosed with breast cancer or any other form, new research suggests exercise is the primary manager to reduce cancer-related fatigue, supplementary improving physical function and quality of life. Studies have also suggested exercise can help breast cancer survivors live a longer, more active life, further showing to reduce the risk of recurrence. Being active may even lower the risk of breast-cancer specific mortality (death from breast cancer) and overall mortality (death from any cause).

Getting Active

It is undeniable physical activity has an astronomical impact on health, especially with the cohesion of aerobic exercise, strength and resistance training, and flexibility workouts. And while exercise is considered to be safe before and after treatment, it is important to know limits and take the necessary precautions for the most healthful practice. But hitting the gym is not the only means to be active, as you can increase physical activity in countless ways, including walking your pet, using the steps rather than the elevator, exercising during your lunch break, planning active vacations, and biking instead of driving when or if possible.

Along with regular and consistent exercise and activity, adopting a complete healthy lifestyle is also stressed. This includes a nutritious, well-balanced diet, filled with whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean protein, and healthy fat sources; obtaining the recommended seven to hours or sleep each night; smoke cessation and not abusing alcohol and other illicit drugs; and managing stress. Despite the preventative measures taken, it is important to know your risk by scheduling routine exams. Find more information on breast cancer symptoms and diagnosis here.

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