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Can Exercise Help Reduce Your Risk Of Breast Cancer?

November 30, 2017

Breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer among women in Singapore. More than 25 percent of all cancers diagnosed in women are breast cancers. The numbers sound scary … but there is hope. Recently, new research has emerged surrounding the relationship between physical fitness and breast cancer.

A recent study performed on young female rats discovered a link between physical fitness and one’s risk of breast cancer. In the study, researchers administered a breast cancer trigger to two groups of rats – the first group comprised young female rats born to mothers with particularly high aerobic capacity, and the other comprised those born to mothers with particularly low aerobic capacity. Results showed that the offspring of rats with low fitness levels were four times more likely to develop breast cancer than those who were physically fit.

While study was done on rats and not humans, researchers are confident the findings have potential relevance for people. “The study underscores the pervasive effects of fitness on bodily health,” says Henry J. Thompson, director of the Cancer Prevention Lab at Colorado State University and the study’s lead author. “Most of us are likely to be able to raise our particular innate fitness capacity with exercise.”

However, exercise is just one factor in the equation. Diet also plays an important role in keeping breast cancer at bay. A local study conducted in 2008 involving 34,000 Singapore Chinese women found that among post-menopausal women, high soy intake (equivalent to a standard serving of tofu per day) could reduce one’s breast cancer risk by 18 percent.

Apart from diet and exercise, there are also several lifestyle factors you can look into to reduce your risk of breast cancer. In a recent interview with HealthScoop, Dr Ho Gay Hui of Koong & Ho Surgery Centre at Thomson Medical Centre, shares a few tips on breast cancer prevention:

To lower one’s risk of breast cancer, you can make adjustments to the risk factors linked to breast cancer. These risk factors are:

  1. Weight gain after menopause – “Aim to maintain a healthy weight especially after menopause.”
  2. Smoking – “There are increasing data that show smokers have a higher risk of breast cancer than non-smokers. Smoking has been shown to cause different cancers such as cancer of the lung, throat, stomach, bladder, and more. It also causes heart disease, lung diseases, and stroke. So, if you smoke, please try to quit. If you don’t smoke, please don’t start!
  3. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – “Long-term use of combined HRT (combination of oestrogen and progestin), which is used to treat severe menopausal symptoms increases one’s risk of breast cancer. If you have to use combined HRT, use the lowest dose for the shortest time possible.”

Cultivating good lifestyle habits is a lifelong commitment. Do something that your future self will thank you for.