Can Exercise Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer?

January 30, 2019

Exercise may reduce the risk of breast cancer by helping to reduce the amount of fat in the body.  This is especially important since there is a clear correlation between obesity and breast cancer. Since estrogen thrives in the adipose tissue, if we decrease the amount of fat, we can decrease the risk of an estrogen based breast cancer. Most breast cancers are hormonal.


Exercise can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression which can improve the immune system.


Research suggests that exercise may reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence.


During exercise, epinephrine is released which helps natural killer cell infiltration. 


Exercise may restore normal gene function and may influence tumor suppressing genes. 


Exercise reduces insulin, increases IGF-1, and decreases leptin


Exercise may have an anti-inflammatory effect. 


In order to reduce the risk of breast cancer and improve overall health, I recommend that aerobic exercise be performed  close to 7 days a week. Start with a moderate intensity activity such as walking. Aerobic exercise gets the heart rate up and for those who have not been exercising, walking is a good start.  You should have a goal of increasing the walking sessions to at least 30 to 60 minutes almost daily.  You can do it all at once or break it up in small amounts done throughout the day. Resistance training and stretching should be performed two or three times per week. If range of motion is still an issue, it may be necessary to stretch several times a day until an acceptable range of motion is achieved.



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