Exercise helps fight breast cancer

Exercise helps fight breast cancerSouth Africa has one of the world's highest rates of hypertension. Statistics from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, about 130 people have a heart attack and 240 have a stroke every day in the country. (File photo)

Women with breast cancer who do exercise, even at moderate levels, have a lower risk of death, according to research presented yesterday at the 2014 World Cancer Congress in Melbourne, Australia.

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South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of hypertension. Statistics from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, about 130 people have a heart attack and 240 have a stroke every day in the country.
South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of hypertension. Statistics from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, about 130 people have a heart attack and 240 have a stroke every day in the country.

Exercise has been known to reduce fatigue, depression and improve quality of life in breast cancer patients. A new this new meta-analysis of 15 clinical studies involving 1 447 women with breast cancer found that exercise also inhibited tumour growth.

“Breast cancer patients should be strongly advised about the vast benefits of physical activity and encouraged to use this ‘free treatment’ to adopt healthy behaviours to reduce their risk of disease progression, in conjunction with any concurrent pharmacological treatment plan they have,” said the lead author, Jose Meneses, from the University of Santo Tomas in Columbia.

He recommends that women do two-and-a-half hours of exercise per week, including walking and other aerobic activities, as well as strengthening exercises.

Other research presented at the congress showed that one in 11 breast cancer cases could be prevented if women don’t start smoking before having their first child.

The study, lead by Dr Inger Gram from the University of Tromso in Norway, followed 137 412 women over 12 years, and found that immature breast tissue is more susceptible to cancer-causing chemicals from tobacco smoke than breast tissue that has matured completely, which happens after a woman has given birth and has breast-fed.

The findings support the view that women can reduce their risk of breast cancer if they quit smoking now, rather than waiting until they decide to have children. – Health-e News.

An edited version of this story was originally published in the 8 December edition of the Cape Times newspaper.