What can you do to reduce your risk of breast cancer?
Many studies have shown that active people are less likely to develop breast cancer. The benefits of exercise are even greater for postmenopausal women. By analyzing women’s levels of physical activity and breast cancer development rates, researchers have concluded that exercise has a significant protective effect. [SB1]
A risk factor in our control
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the risk factors [SB2] associated with breast cancer. The good news is that it’s a factor we can do something about. That’s right! You can reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Why is exercise beneficial?
Physical activity reduces your risk of developing breast cancer by:
- Lowering your reproductive hormone levels
- High levels of estrogen promote the development of cancer [SB3]
- Reducing your body fat
- Fat cells secrete inflammatory and proliferative factors [SB4]
- Boosting the immune system
- Decreased immune function promotes the development of cancer [SB5]
Are you in good health?
Weight and body mass index (BMI) have long been considered indicators of a person’s health. Today, physicians are also concerned about the following factors:
- Blood pressure
- Blood-sugar levels
- Lipid and cholesterol levels in the blood
- Circumference at the waist
When two of these components are at a high level, a person is said to have a metabolic syndrome [SB6]. This condition is not a disease, but rather a set of factors that predispose someone to cardiovascular disease or diabetes. In other words, a thin person may be in poor health if their fat, sugar or blood pressure levels are high. Poor nutrition and physical inactivity are factors that increase the risk of metabolic syndrome.
CHANGE: an inspiring program!
Via its Ma Santé Active kinesio-oncology program, the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation provides financial support and partners with the CHANGE program (Canadian Health Advanced through Nutrition and Graded Exercise).
Canadian physicians, including kinesiologist Angelo Tremblay, PhD, a professor in the Social and Preventive Medicine Department at Université Laval in Québec City, have developed an exercise program that has been very successful in addressing patients’ metabolic syndrome. The CHANGE [SB7] program offers personalized training based on two fundamental elements: choosing a pleasant physical activity and gradually increasing its duration and intensity. This method has produced impressive results. After only six months, 22% of patients had already reversed their metabolic syndrome diagnosis.
Small actions to improve your health
The success of the CHANGE program shows an interesting fact: weight loss is not essential to improving your health because exercise improves blood factors very quickly.
Many well-intentioned people start a training program too intensely, only to abandon it soon after. The key to sustainable exercise is to go gradually and take small steps to progressively increase your levels of physical activity. Here are some ideas for adding exercise to your daily routine:
- Park further away from your destination to get yourself walking more
- Take a walk after lunch or dinner
- Take your bike
- Get up to stretch your legs every hour
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
Physical activity must be enjoyable to be sustainable. Think of an activity that you really love doing…and do it![ZBL1]
[SB1]Gonçalves AK et al.2014. Effects of physical activity on breast cancer prevention: a systematic review. J. Phys. Act. Health 11: 445-54
[SB2]Lien vers page facteurs de risque du site FCSQ
[SB3]Kossman, D.A., J Appl Physiol (1985). 2011, Exercise lowers estrogen and progesterone levels in premenopausal women at high risk of breast cancer 111(6): 1687–1693.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4116411/
[SB5]Hojman, P (2017). Exercise protects from cancer through regulation of immune function and inflammation. Biochem Soc Trans. 45(4):905-11. doi: 10.1042/BST20160466.