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New Research Proves The Protective Effect of Exercise Against Premenopausal Breast Cancer

Updated: Feb 11

In a recent study funded by Breast Cancer Now, there's encouraging news for women navigating the years before menopause: Regular physical activity emerges as a potent ally in the fight against breast cancer. Published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, this study, included data from 19 global studies involving over 547,000 premenopausal women, and highlights the fact that exercise could significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer in younger women.

Unpacking the data the study analysed information from a cohort of women with an average follow-up of 11.5 years, revealing 10,231 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in London delved into self-reported leisure-time physical activity, encompassing exercise, cycling, and recreational walking.

The findings were unequivocal: women in the top 10% of the physical activity spectrum experienced a 10% lower risk of developing breast cancer before menopause compared to their less active counterparts. Importantly, this benefit persisted even after accounting for other significant breast cancer risk factors like BMI, family history, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

The study did not pinpoint a specific "magic number" of exercise minutes for protection. Instead, it revealed the significance of regular exercise, highlighting that the more moderate and vigorous physical activity women engage in outside of work, the lower their risk of breast cancer. 

While the precise mechanisms are still under examination, prior research suggests that physical activity may reduce sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, known to be linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Additionally, it lowers insulin and growth hormone levels, both contributing to cancer growth. Furthermore, physical activity diminishes general inflammation, a factor in the development and progression of cancer.

It's crucial to acknowledge that breast cancer risk is influenced by a complex interplay of factors, many beyond our control. Nevertheless, this study empowers women to proactively manage their health by making small, sustainable changes, with a focus on physical activity

This research represents a significant stride in understanding the link between physical activity and premenopausal breast cancer risk. While it doesn't guarantee immunity, it paints a compelling picture of prevention through informed choices. 

By incorporating even modest amounts of exercise into their daily routine, women may reduce their risk and assume meaningful responsibility for their health. Remember: every step, every cycle, every training session counts. Lace up your shoes, find your passion, and move your body for a healthier future.

If you want to help your women bring more exercise into their life and into the workplace, get in touch for a chat to see how I can help.

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