Harvard Women's Health Watch

Walking may lower breast cancer risk

Getting out for a walk a few hours a week might help lower your breast cancer risk. That's according to a study published online Oct. 4, 2013, in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention. Researchers from the American Cancer Society looked at breast cancer status and exercise in nearly 74,000 postmenopausal women. During the 17-year study, 4,760 of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer. Among women whose only physical activity was walking, those who walked seven hours a week had a 14% lower risk for breast cancer compared with those who walked three or fewer hours a week. The longer women walked, and the more strenuously, the lower their risk dropped. It's not clear exactly how exercise might reduce breast cancer risk, but researchers say physical activity helps regulate hormones like estrogen, which can fuel breast cancer growth.

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