A recent study published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment has shown that regular physical activity can delay the need for drastic preventive measures in high risk women that are threatened by breast cancer.

The study suggests that extreme measures, such as prophylactic mastectomies can be avoided. Physicians focus on reducing estrogen exposure on patients with a high risk of developing breast cancer. Now investigators have found that aerobic exercise does just that. Exercise, a noninvasive approach, not only reduces estrogen exposure but it has no side effects compared to surgery or hormonal medications.

Previous investigations have even shown how estrogen levels can be lowered by moderate exercise. Photo: Career Girl Network

The author of the study, Kathryn H. Schmitz, a professor of Epidemiology and a member of the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania University’s Perelman School of Medicine explained that women that have a high risk to develop breast cancer usually have a really hard time, “Double mastectomy is considered an effective method of prevention, but that’s an incredibly difficult decision to make.”

Furthermore, intense hours exercise leads to even lesser estrogen production, breast shrinkage and irregular periods on female athletes. Professor Schmitz, explains that the little amounts of estrogen found in athlete’s bodies is a good thing. These levels limit the body to sustaining only a few estrogen-dependent functions; therefore it will not be capable of spreading cancer cells.

The study

After risk predictions were made by evaluating the history and the mutation of the BRCA gene, a group of 139 premenopausal non-smoking women aged between 18 and 50 were selected for the study. The experiment consisted on treadmill exercises. A group of women had to exercise for 150 or 300 min/week, another group for just 75min/week, all groups during five menstrual cycles (MC) and one group had little to no exercise. Blood and urine samples and MRI breast images were taken before and after each MC.

After the study ended, the first and second group showed a reduction of about 8 percent and 12 percent respectively in estrogen-sensitive breast tissue, while the third presented a 20 percent increase. Investigators also found that there was a 10 percent drop per every 100 minutes of exercise.

“These new results show that for women in this high risk category, aerobic exercise has a striking ability to reduce the hormonally sensitive tissue in the breast that we worry about most for breast cancer,” Professor Schmitz added.

The investigation has helped develop a clear connection between exercise and breast cancer risk. The authors now suggest that the women that fall in the high risk category should exercise during 30 to 60 minutes per day by performing aerobic activity five days a week.

Source: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment