Exciting New Research About Exercise and Breast Cancer

09/30/2020 | 2 min. read

Dr. Briana Sinatra

Dr. Briana Sinatra

There is some very exciting new research that shows that exercise reduces breast cancer risk. The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found that women who participated in regular physical activity before their cancer diagnosis and after treatment were less likely to have their cancer recur and more likely to survive compared to those who were inactive.

The data is part of a larger study of women diagnosed with high-risk breast cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. These women have a higher rate of cancer recurrence and death because their primary tumor was either large or the cancer had already spread to their lymph nodes.

Through a questionnaire, participants responded to questions about their physical activity level before their diagnosis, during chemotherapy treatment, and at both the 1- and 2-year marks after their treatment. As a guide, researchers used the US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines advocate at least 2-1/2 hours of moderate-intensity activity a week or 1-1/4 hours of vigorous activity per week.

Take a Look at the Remarkable Results:

  • Patients who met the minimum federal exercise guidelines, before and after treatment, had more than a 50% decrease in risk of their cancer returning and of dying.
  • Patients who started exercising only after treatment also saw a significant decrease in recurrence and chance of dying compared to those who led more sedentary lives—and it was only slightly less significant than those who had been exercising before and after treatment.
  • Research also shows that a few hours of consistent, weekly exercise resulted in the same survival benefits as longer periods of weekly activity.

This is fantastic! It means that anything you do to move your body can have a huge benefit on your health compared to being sedentary. Going for a walk, swimming, taking the stairs, gardening, practicing yoga, dancing, biking to the store instead of driving, and playing tag with your kids are all easy ways to get physical exercise. And it is never too late to start!

I hope you can make it a priority to get outside and move your body today. You and your health are worth it. And your future self will thank you!