Exercise for Breast Cancer Prevention
Women who get regular exercise (physical activity) have a lower risk of breast cancer than women who are not active. When the evidence is looked at as a whole, regular exercise appears to lower breast cancer risk by 10-20 percent. This benefit is seen most clearly in postmenopausal women.
Exercise may lower breast cancer risk in a few ways.
It can help with weight control. Being lean lowers the risk of breast cancer after menopause. Being active may also lower blood estrogen levels. Women with lower blood estrogen levels have a lower risk of breast cancer than women with higher levels. And, exercise may boost the body’s immune system so it can help kill or slow the growth of cancer cells.
Exercise for Breast Cancer Recovery
Proper exercise programming not only minimizes treatment side-efffects and may improve tolerance, but it can aide in recovery from surgery and treatment as well. Following breast cancer surgery, reconstruction, and or radiation patients are often left with painful and functionally limiting muscle imbalances and shoulder range of motion issues. These can be minimized or eradicated with proper exercise programming. Following lymph node removal and/or radiation patients will have a lifelong risk of lymphedema (swelling of the affected side/limb) that can be painful, functionally limiting, and disfiguring. This, too, may be minimized or entirely prevented with an appropriate exercise prescription and slow gradual progression.
Exercise for Survivorship
￼Some studies suggest being active lowers the risk of:
- Breast cancer-specific mortality (death from breast cancer)
- Overall mortality (death from any cause, not necessarily breast cancer)