Postmenopausal women who get more than two hours' vigorous exercise weekly have lower risk

-- Lindsey Marcellin

Monday, October 4, 2010 (Last Updated: 10/05/2010)

MONDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal African-American women who exercise vigorously for more than two hours per week have a significantly decreased risk of breast cancer, according to research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities, held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 in Miami.

Vanessa Sheppard, Ph.D., of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues selected 97 African-American women recently diagnosed with breast cancer and 102 African-American women without breast cancer to fill out a questionnaire about exercise routines. The purpose of the study was to assess the relationship of vigorous exercise with breast cancer, specifically in African-American women.

The researchers found that vigorous exercise of more than two hours per week was associated with a 62-percent reduced risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal African-American women compared to same-race woman who did not exercise. There was no significant decrease in the risk of premenopausal breast cancer in the vigorous exercise group, however. Exercise described as moderate, such as walking, was associated with a 17 percent reduced risk, compared to women who were sedentary.

"We suggest that our findings, while promising, should be interpreted with caution. This is a pilot study and a larger, more rigorous study is needed to precisely quantify the effect of exercise on development of breast cancer. I think it is fair to conclude that if African-American women exercise they can help take charge of their health," Sheppard said in a statement.

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Specialties Hematology & Oncology
Family Practice
Internal Medicine

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