A study published in the journal Cancer found that women who exercise moderately may have reduced risk for developing breast cancer after menopause, when compared against their peers who did not engage in physical activity.
Women who exercised during their childbearing years were less likely to develop breast cancer after menopause, although women who only began exercising after menopause also had lower breast cancer risk, suggesting that it was never too late to start being physically active.
Study lead Lauren McCullough, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, shared: “What we can say is, exercise is good for you… It’s never too late to start. Our evidence suggests that if you start after menopause, you can still help yourself.”
The results of their research lends further credence to previous studies that associate regular exercise with lower breast cancer rates, although these studies only indicate a correlation between the two, as opposed to offering proof that reduced risk for breast cancer is due to exercise itself.
McCullough shared that there may be several reasons behind the correlation. One indirect possibility is that, by cutting body fat, known growth factors that can feed the development of tumors may also be reduced. Exercise may also have direct effects by boosting the immune system.
The study involved an analysis of data from 1,500 women with breast cancer, and 1,550 women who were not suffering from the disease. The study participants were of the same age, and were asked about their exercise habits and other lifestyle factors, including smoking and drinking.