Boston University Slone Epidemiology Center’s Dr. Lynn Rosenberg, ScD, is suggesting yet another reason to incorporate exercise into daily life. Physical activity may decrease the risk of breast cancer for African American women, according to her article published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, entitled, “A Prospective Study of Physical Activity and Breast Cancer Incidence in African American Women.”
“Although expert review panels have accepted a link between physical exercise and breast cancer incidence, most study participants have been white women,” stated Dr. Rosenberg in a news release from Boston University Medical Center. “This is the first large scale study to support that vigorous exercise may decrease incidence of breast cancer in African American women.”
Along with collaborators in Boston and lead investigator Dr. Lucile Adams-Campbell from Georgetown University, Dr. Rosenberg used prospective data from the black Women’s Health Study and follow-ups of 44,708 African American women ages 30 years and older. The team looked at exercise habits over a period of 16 years and determined any link to breast cancer development.
The team found vigorous exercise for seven or more hours each week reduced the risk of breast cancer by 25% compared to exercise for less than one hour a week. Vigorous exercise described activities such as basketball, swimming, running, and aerobics. Brisk — but not normal — walking also benefited the women. These results were independent of estrogen receptor status of the breast cancer.
Clearly, there is a benefit of exercise for reducing the risk of breast cancer, regardless of genetic disposition. Interesting to note is vigorous exercise below age 30 was not associated with breast cancer incidence, nor was sitting for long periods of time at work. These results can be meaningful, as breast cancer affects one in every eight women and is the second-most lethal cancer.