Exercise reduces cancer risk


How much physical activity do I need each day in order to make a difference to my health?

A new study from the American Cancer Society (ACS) confirms you don’t have to be a marathon runner to see the positive effects.

Simply walking on a regular basis shows considerable health benefits, particularly with respect to lowering breast cancer risk. 

Evidence links exercise to lower risk for breast cancer, and now researchers from the ACS have found that walking at least seven hours per week is associated with a 14 per cent lower risk of developing breast cancer for women after menopause.

This finding is consistent with many other studies that show regular exercise can help women lower their risk of breast cancer. 

By consistently walking at a “moderate” pace – about 4.8 kilometres per hour, a woman can decrease her risk of breast cancer by 14 per cent. And, by opting for more vigorous exercise, risk can be lowered by up to 25 per cent. 

The ACS recommends adults exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes, or at a vigorous intensity for 75 minutes every week, preferably spread over the week (not just all in one day).

Moderate intensity activity is at the level of brisk walking, and vigorous activity challenges the cardiovascular system more; for instance as in running, strong swimming and aerobic dancing. 


UBC’s Dr. Kristin Campbell’s research interests are focused on the role of physical activity across the cancer experience, namely in prevention, rehabilitation from cancer treatments, and cancer survivorship. Campbell was the recipient of a 2010-2011 Annual Breast Cancer Research Grant.

Her Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-funded study examined the effect of an exercise intervention on cognitive function in breast cancer survivors. Following chemotherapy, some breast cancer survivors report change in their ability to remember, concentrate or think, which can have a significant emotional, psychological and economic impact on their lives. 

Campbell draws her inspiration from the study participants, “who have had a breast cancer diagnosis and are willing to give their time to participate in a research study to help women in the future.” She said “it is especially inspiring to see women who may not have participated in exercise previously really start to feel the benefits.”

To learn more about her research and related topics, visit http://cepl.rehab.med.ubc.ca/.

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