Exercise Fights Cancer: A HealthCentral Explainer

SSuchy Editor
  • A study published in the recent issue of Cancer once again confirmed what countless other studies have noted—moderate, but regular, physical activity can dramatically  improve your health and stave off illnesses, including cancer.


    Breast cancer, meet your match


    The most recent study of 1,504 women with breast cancer and 1,555 women without breast cancer found that women who regularly exercised in their reproductive or post-menopausal years significantly cut their risk of developing breast cancer. 


    Specifically, women who exercised between ten and nineteen hours per week saw a 30 percent decreased risk of breast cancer.  The study’s authors particularly encourage post-menopausal women to establish a regular exercise regimen, given that most cases of breast cancer occur in later years.

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    What kills us these days


    This kind of research is nothing new.  Numerous studies in recent years have linked regular exercise to a decreased risk of cancer. Given the New England Journal of Medicine’s recent finding that cancer killed 185.9 of every 100,000 Americans in 2010, the value of exercise is fighting the second-leading cause of death in the country can’t be underestimated. (The leading cause of death was heart disease, which also can be prevented with exercise and proper nutrition.) 


    Fit survivors


    Some studies take it a step further.  In 2011, researchers at the University of Missouri found that breast cancer survivors do not need to restrict their activities as much as experts previously thought.


    SLIDESHOW: 10 Things to know about breast cancer and nutrition


    In fact, physical activity in breast cancer survivors, when done with proper supervision, is particularly important in preventing a recurrence of breast cancer and other types of cancer.


    Granted, it’s  hard enough for the average, healthy person to drag himself or herself to the gym for a 30-minute workout  (at the very least). Clearly, it can be a great challenge for someone to establish (or reestablish) a workout routine after months of cancer treatment.


    According to PJ Hamel, community leader and writer for HealthCentral and a breast cancer survivor herself, there’s a temptation for breast cancer survivors to take too long to get back into an exercise regimen, especially when their main focus for months has been to make it through treatment. 


    “The key is to find something you can do and stay with it,” said Hamel “You want to be back at the level you were before treatment, but that goal is a long way off because of what you’ve undergone.” 


    SLIDESHOW: 10 Breast cancer myths debunked


    Many hospitals and gyms have people on staff to help patients who have gone through cancer treatments, or other physically debilitating experiences, to develop   and maintain a healthy exercise regimen. 


    It is important to know how much exercise your  body can withstand, especially in the first several weeks.  More than normal fatigue during a work out may mean you’re pushing your body too hard and that you need more rest.


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    “Whatever you do, you have to do something. Don’t be frustrated by how slow your progress is…you will make progress and eventually you will start to feel better” said Hamel.



    Works cited:


    Fung, Brian (2012, June 22). Chart: What killed us, then and now. The Atlantic. Retrieved June 26, 2012, from http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/06/chart-what-killed-us-then-and-now/258872/


    Wiley-Blackwell (2012, June 25). Exercise, even mild physical activity, may reduce breast cancer risk.  Science Daily. Retrieved June 26, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120625065334.htm



    University of Missouri-Columbia (2011, December 1). Researchers recommend exercise for breast cancer, lymphedema patients.  Science Daily. Retrieved June 26, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111201125426.htm

Published On: June 28, 2012