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Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer through Exercise

Posted February 27, 2021 by Bellin Health

Have you ever considered that exercise could help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer? According to the National Cancer Institute, regular exercisers have a 12% reduced risk of getting breast cancer.

The science behind this theory is pretty simple. According to the Susan G. Komen website, studies show higher blood levels of the estrogen called estradiol, increase the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Estrogen is stored most commonly in belly fat, so carrying extra weight around your middle can increase your risk of developing breast cancer.  And, the more fat on your body means the more cells carrying estrogen which means you’re at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Creating a regular routine of exercise can help reduce your weight and therefore reduce your risk. Exercise reduces blood estrogen levels and therefore exercise can help lower a woman’s breast cancer risk.

According to the National Cancer Institute, “exercise has a number of biological effects on the body, some of which have been proposed to explain associations with specific cancers, including:

  • Lowering the levels of hormones, such as insulin and estrogen, and of certain growth factors that have been associated with cancer development and progression (23) [breast, colon]
  • Helping to prevent obesity and decreasing the harmful effects of obesity, particularly the development of insulin resistance (failure of the body’s cells to respond to insulin)
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Improving immune system function
  • Altering the metabolism of bile acids, resulting in decreased exposure of the gastrointestinal tract to these suspected carcinogens (24, 25) [colon]
  • Reducing the amount of time it takes for food to travel through the digestive system, which decreases gastrointestinal tract exposure to possible carcinogens [colon] -National Cancer Institute”

So how much exercise should I get?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that, “for substantial health benefits, adults engage in at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity, every week. Aerobic physical activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, preferably spread throughout the week.

If you’re a member at Bellin Health Fitness, but are not sure what to do, consider any of our group fitness classes, personal training or specialty workshops to get you started. Stop in at our front desk and let them guide you to an option that works for you!

Bellin Health Fitness offers special programming for our patients during and after treatments. Check with your Cancer Care Team or our front desk for more information.

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