Spa Wellness: Let's Get Physical

New research links physical fitness to possible breast cancer prevention.

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New findings suggest that women who exercise for an hour or more each day slash their breast cancer risk by up to 12%, regardless of other factors such as age, weight and geographical location. That was the conclusion drawn by Professor Mathieu Boniol, research director at the International Prevention Research Institute in Lyon, France, whose findings were presented at the ninth European Breast Cancer Conference in Glasgow (EBCC-9) in March.

Before reaching his findings, Boniol and his team conducted a meta-analysis of 37 studies published between 1987 and 2013, representing more than four million women. Other conclusions: the age at which sporting activity starts appears to be immaterial, and the protective effect of exercise seems to be cancelled out for women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

“Adding breast cancer to the list of diseases that can be prevented by physical activity should encourage the development of cities that foster regular exercise by becoming bike- and pedestrian-friendly, creating new sports facilities and promoting exercise through education campaigns,” says Boniol.

“Though the mechanism for the potentially protective effect of physical activity remains unclear, the analysis provides women with a real impetus to increase physical activity by even modest increments,” added Dr. Hilary Dobson, chair of EBCC-9’s national organizing committee and clinical lead of the West of Scotland Breast Screening Service.