While research has shown for some time that there is a lower incidence of breast cancer in exercising women, it has been hard to pinpoint exactly why. Researchers have uncovered data which might finally give us an answer.
Conducting research on the link, scientists separated hundreds of women into two groups. One group participated in moderate exercise five times a week for four months. The other group did not exercise at all. In order to record changes in the women’s estrogen and the hormone’s byproduct levels, urine samples were collected from each person right before and immediately after the study period.
They found that women who exercised regularly had a lower level of the estrogen byproduct 16a-OHE1, known to potentially cause cancer. These same women also had a higher level of another estrogen byproduct known to be harmless. Previous research found that this ratio lowered a woman’s chances for breast cancer significantly.
The women who did not exercise had no changes in any of these levels.
So why did the women who exercised have these results? Researchers think that physical activity can alter the way your enzymes breaks down estrogen. Because of this, your body ends up with more good byproduct from the hormone than the bad kind by as much as 25%.
So what can you do with this information? Start by adding at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise into your weekly routine. Moderate exercise includes brisk walking, jogging, tennis, biking and basically any activity that causes you to sweat and raise your heart rate. Also, consider a healthier diet while you are at it. Colorful fruits and vegetables are full of carotenoids and are known to be cancer-fighting foods. Combine the two – exercise and a good diet – and you could reduce your chances of breast cancer by as much as 50%.
Next time you need a reason to exercise, keep in mind the benefits that come with an active lifestyle. From that point of view, it should be an easy choice.