Breast cancer

09 May 2013

How exercise lowers breast cancer risk

Scientists identify changes in oestrogen metabolism as key factor in how exercise may lower breast cancer risk.

0

Exercise appears to change the way women's bodies metabolise the hormone oestrogen, and this could help explain how aerobic activity reduces a woman's breast cancer risk, a new study suggests.

Previous research has suggested that exercise lowers breast cancer risk, but there haven't been any clinical studies that explain the mechanism behind this, said Mindy Kurzer, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul.

"Ours is the first study to show that aerobic exercise influences the way our bodies break down estrogens to produce more of the 'good' metabolites that lower breast cancer risk," she said.

How the study was done

The study included nearly 400 healthy, but inactive young women who were divided into two groups. All were premenopausal, meaning their bodies still produced the hormone oestrogen.

One group remained inactive while the other group did 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise five times a week for 16 weeks. For their workouts, they used equipment such as treadmills, stair steppers and elliptical machines.

Before and after those 16 weeks, the researchers collected urine samples from women in both groups. At the end of the study, the women in the exercise group had higher levels of the oestrogen metabolites that reduce breast cancer risk.

"Exercise, known to favour fitness and improve heart health, is also likely to help prevent breast cancer by altering oestrogen metabolism," Kurzer said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.

"It is very important, however, to decipher the biological mechanisms behind this phenomenon."

She is currently conducting similar studies in women at high risk for breast cancer.

More information

The US National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer prevention.

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules