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Can exercise beat breast cancer?

Exercise may cut the risk of breast cancer, at least in premenopausal women, says a team of Norwegian researchers.

Inger Thune and co-workers examined information that had been gathered on more than 25,000 healthy women between 1974 and 1983. By 1995, 351 of the women had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Their findings: Women who exercised at least four hours a week (or participated in competitive sports several times a week) had a 37 percent lower risk of breast cancer than sedentary women.

Some caveats: Exercise appeared to offer less protection for women who were postmenopausal or overweight. And the couch potatoes might have consumed more alcohol--which increases the risk of breast cancer.

Nevertheless, says Regina Ziegler, a cancer epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, "these results are exciting because exercise is a risk factor that can be modified.

"There's so much pessimism because women think that genes determine their risk of breast cancer--probably more than they actually do--and they think there's nothing they can do to prevent it."

But, she adds, "four hours a week is substantially above the level of physical activity of the average American woman."

New Eng. J. Med. 336: 1269, 1311, 1997.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Center for Science in the Public Interest
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:research results
Author:Liebman, Bonnie
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 1, 1997
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