How much you exercise may help to reduce your risk of developing cancer, and now there’s a significant number: 5 hours per week.
While more than 100 studies have already shown a connection between physical activity and lowering the risk of breast cancer, this new research looked at the long-term impact more frequent exercise has on the risk.
Leading the research was Christine Friedenreich, scientific leader of cancer epidemiology and prevention research at Alberta Health Services. Friedenreich and her team looked at the common recommendation of 150 minutes of exercise per week to reduce the cancer risk, and doubled it, seeing what would happen to women who exercised 5 hours (300 minutes) per week.
Published in the journal JAMA Oncology, Friedenreich found that of the 384 non-active women past menopause of varying weights, “those women randomly assigned to exercise for 300 minutes a week over the year-long study lost more body fat than those who were active for 150 minutes each week,” reports Time Magazine. “The women didn’t change their diet or any other aspect of their lives; they just exercised their allotted amount, by walking, running, cycling or using an elliptical machine or treadmill.”
Those women shed about 2.2 pounds more body fat than the less active group, losing abdominal fat in particular, with a larger dip in the waist to hip ratio.
While the overall weight loss was about the same between the two groups, the findings suggest that the more physical activity poses significant benefits for reducing the cancer risk.
“[F]or cancer prevention, we may need to exercise at higher volumes,” says Friedenreich. “So yes, doing 150 minutes of activity a week is good, but if you can do more, then from a cancer prevention perspective, 300 minutes is better.”
Fatty tissue serves of the primary source for hormones connected with post-menopausal breast cancer and also works to regulate the body’s immune and inflammatory responses.
“I’m sure that doctors are advising their patients to be more physically active to prevent heart disease or diabetes,” says Friedenreich. “So we’d like to add cancer to that list of chronic diseases that exercise can potentially prevent or help to lower the risk.”
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