According to a recent study, breast cancer survivors may be able to live longer simply by going for daily brisk walks.
Regular exercise, including the frequently recommended daily walk, has many benefits. A lower risk of developing breast cancer is one of the potential health advantages.
However, it is unclear whether regular exercise can lengthen the lives of those who have already battled breast cancer. The most recent research, which was released in JAMA Network Open on November 17, suggests it might be possible.
Researchers discovered that among more than 300 women who survived early-stage breast cancer, those who engaged in moderate physical activity had a 60% lower mortality rate than more sedentary individuals.
Breast cancer survivors who exercised moderately had the same survival advantage as those who exercised more vigorously.
According to senior researcher Reina Haque, this is “good news,” as it suggests that strenuous exercise is not required.
According to Haque, a senior cancer epidemiologist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena, moderate exercise has a wide range of health advantages, including aiding in the control of blood pressure, blood sugar, and body weight.
And according to the latest research, women may continue to benefit from these advantages even after having breast cancer.
Breast cancer is very treatable, particularly if it is discovered early. According to the American Cancer Society, 99% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are still alive five years later.
According to Erika Rees-Punia, a senior principal scientist with the ACS, while breast cancer survivors are, like everyone else, encouraged to maintain healthy habits like regular exercise, there has been little research on whether exercise helps them live longer.
According to her, the recent discoveries might inspire more survivors to start being active or to continue what they are already doing.
The study included 315 women who, on average, were 71 years old and had received an early-stage breast cancer diagnosis at least two years prior. They began by discussing their most recent exercise routines.
In total, 77 women met the criteria for moderate activity, which includes engaging in activities like brisk walking or bicycling most days of the week. Another 141 women were classified as “vigorously” active because they preferred sports like running, and 97 women were classified as “insufficiently” active.
14% of study participants passed away over the following eight years. Still, the death rate was significantly lower among active women: in both exercise groups, the death rate was roughly 1.3% per year, compared to 3.3% per year in the more sedentary group.
Naturally, there may be a wide range of additional distinctions between breast cancer survivors who exercise frequently and those who do not. Haque’s team considered these variables, including the women’s ages, the types of cancer treatments they had received, and whether or not they complained of fatigue, had other medical conditions, or had a history of depression.
And yet, during the study period, physical activity was still connected to a 60% reduction in the risk of passing away.
Rees-Punia remarked that the researchers did a good job of accounting for other things that we’d expect could explain this association.”
There is no question that physical activity is good for your health, and both researchers said they thought the results accurately reflected the benefits of leading an active lifestyle.
Rees-Punia asserted that “almost everyone” benefits from physical activity. And this is yet another example of why staying active following a breast cancer diagnosis is crucial.
The study’s main focus was overall mortality rather than just breast cancer mortality. According to Haque, women who survive early-stage breast cancer typically pass away from other causes rather than a disease recurrence. Five of the 45 study subjects passed away from breast cancer.
According to Rees-Punia, the study raises the following issue: Can a woman who was sedentary before her cancer diagnosis extend her life by starting to exercise now?
Rees-Punia expressed hope that the new findings will motivate more breast cancer survivors to incorporate physical activity into their lives, given the potential health benefits.