Postmenopausal women who were very active or walked for at least seven hours a week had a reduced risk for breast cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Women who engaged in at least an hour of vigorous physical activity every day had a 25 percent lower risk for breast cancer, and those who walked for at least seven hours a week had a 14 percent lower risk for breast cancer, in this study of 73,615 postmenopausal women.
“We examined whether recreational physical activity, specifically walking, was associated with lower breast cancer risk. Given that more than 60 percent of women report some daily walking, promoting walking as a healthy leisure-time activity could be an effective strategy for increasing physical activity among postmenopausal women,” said Alpa Patel, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Atlanta, Ga. “We were pleased to find that without any other recreational activity, just walking an average of one hour per day was associated with lower risk of breast cancer in these women.”
After making adjustments to the data, the researchers determined that the observed benefits of physical activity and walking were not influenced by body type (BMI and weight gain) or hormonal status (postmenopausal hormone use and estrogen receptor status).
This is the first study to report a lower risk for breast cancer among this demographic associated specifically with walking, according to the authors.