Exercise and Breast Cancer

October is breast cancer awareness month, and I thought I’d talk a bit about breast cancer and the benefits of exercise towards reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Firstly, what causes breast cancer? Experts are not sure why exactly one female will develop it and the other does not but there are risk factors that can impact on a women’s likelihood of developing breast cancer. Such factors[1] include getting older, genetics, dense breast tissue, obesity, height (smaller less risk) and alcohol consumption to name a few. Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in females worldwide. It accounts for 16% of all female cancers and 22.9% of invasive cancers in women and 18.2% of all cancer deaths worldwide.[2]

Breast cancer treatment can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal therapies.[3] But I think in all cancer cases prevention really is the cure. And I am not talking about when you hit your 40’s and your overweight already and you finally get your act together to be mindful of your own health. It could be too late by then. The habit of a healthy lifestyle should be started in childhood and carried right through into adult life to reap the benefits in my opinion, and therefore successfully increase your chance of preventing cancers.

A recent study[4] has found that simply walking for an hour a day will help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 14% according to American Cancer Society (ACS). Engage in even more vigorous activities and your risk might be cut even more. A relatively pain free exercise such as walking is all it takes to put you in the right direction.

To be honest I already think people know the benefits of exercise and how it assists with a lot of things. It’s just a matter of doing it and finding a routine that fits with the individual. When 16-18 years olds are driving drunk or hooning and labeled “silly for feeling invincible”, that nothing will happen to them. Can the same be said about adults putting no consideration into their unhealthy lifestyles? especially when we know so much? Do they have the same “it’ll never happen to me” attitude? In a society where we eat double what we should, move less, diets filled with fats and sugars, our lifestyles are far more carcinogenic than ever before.

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