Based on findings, carcinoma of the breast is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in white females aged 40 years and older. An average of 183,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year, which means that one of every nine females will have breast cancer at some time during her life, and the re-occurrence rate is very high. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 40 and 60 years. Despite experiencing a decrease over the last decade, its incidence still remains high amongst women in the U.S. and other developed countries.
The primary risk factors for breast cancer include a positive family history, as well as a personal history of cancer, first menstrual period at an early age, menopause at a late age, reproduction patterns such as giving birth to a first child after the age 30 or no childbirth, lifestyle, and a diet high in fat.
Whereas factors such as childlessness, obesity due to high-fat diet in menopausal women and alcohol consumption, etc, increase the risk for breast cancer, physical activity and breastfeeding were found to be the preventative measures against its development.
Invasive Breast Cancer – The Benefits of Exercise
Currently, there are two types of breast cancer:
Non-invasive or insitu breast cancer means the cancer does not invade or multiply in other cells. Presently, an insitu ductual carcinoma of the breast has been found to be the most frequent form of non-invasive breast cancer. However, it’s believed that exercise doesn’t offer any benefits against the risk of developing this type of cancer. On the contrary, studies have shown that exercise can decrease the risk for invasive breast cancer.
Invasive Breast Cancer and Exercise
It was discovered that physically active menopausal women have a 14% less chance of developing invasive breast cancer compared to sedentary menopausal women. It was found that moderate to intense physical activity in general decreases the risk of developing breast cancer by 8% and 14% respectively.
In fact, based on finding, an expert report published by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) in 2007, as well as in its updated version in 2010, confirmed that there is enough evidence on the protective effects of physical activity. However, this evidence is somewhat more convincing in the case of menopausal women, according to this report. The important question is however, how does physical exercise help to decrease the risk of invasive breast cancer?
How Does Exercise Work
Physical activity helps in many ways to reduce the risk of developing invasive breast cancer. In fact, there are several theories in support of this. It’s believed that a reduced cancer risk is mediated by regular exercise, which reduces levels of glucose and insulin and increases levels of corticosteroid hormones.
Exercise also increases levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines and augments insulin-receptor expression in cancer-fighting T- Cells. Physical activity has also shown to increase interferon production, stimulates glycogen synthetase, augments leukocyte function, and improves the metabolism of ascorbic acid – all of which blunt the formation of cancerous tumors. Another logical reasoning is that regular exercise may exert beneficial effects on the process of provirus or oncogene activation.
Based on a 1997 article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 25,624 premenopausal and postmenopausal women participated in a study designed to investigate the benefits of physical activity in women with breast cancer. The end result confirmed that physical activity protects against breast cancer, particularly among premenopausal and younger postmenopausal women. They found that vigorous physical training and even moderate exercise can interrupt the menstrual cycle, perhaps by suppressing the pulsatile release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone. This effect of physical activity may lower a woman’s cumulative exposure to estrogen and progesterone, thereby inhibiting carcinogenesis in the breast.
With all the above reports, studies, and scientific theories, hopefully sufficient evidence was provided here on the benefits of exercise in reducing the risk of invasive breast cancer, in particular from a hormonal standpoint. Although other contributory factors of breast cancer in general such as obesity, diet, lifestyle weren't adequately addressed, we already aware of the benefits of exercise when it comes to these.