Exercise is well-known to benefit a person’s physical and mental well-being, and research also suggests exercise may lower the risk of developing breast cancer.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, one study demonstrated that increasing exercise and decreasing body fat lowered the risk of breast cancer for postmenopausal women. The findings, published in JAMA Oncology in 2015, involved a 12-month long randomized trial, and ultimately found that 300 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise was more effective than 150 minutes per week in reducing total fat among postmenopausal women.
“These results suggest additional benefit of higher-volume aerobic exercise for adiposity outcomes and possibly a lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer,” the study reads. The Cleveland Clinic adds that the “reduction in body fat may play a role in reducing breast cancer risk.”
What’s more, the National Cancer Institute has noted that physically active women were found to lower their risk of breast cancer by 12-21% versus those least physically active, per a 2016 meta-analysis drawing from 38 cohort studies.
Researchers agree that maintaining a healthy weight is key to reducing the risk of developing breast cancer.
The Mayo Clinic recommends working to maintain a healthy weight and adds: “Most healthy adults should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.”
Nutrition may also help lower the risk of breast cancer, per the Mayo Clinic, which specifically cited the Mediterranean diet.
“Women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a reduced risk of breast cancer,” the clinic explained on its webpage. “The Mediterranean diet focuses on mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, over butter and eat fish instead of red meat.”
Other lifestyle changes that lower the risk of breast cancer include limiting alcohol consumption, breastfeeding and limiting postmenopausal hormone therapy, the clinic wrote.
Overall, the Mayo Clinic advises patients to be “vigilant about breast cancer detection.”
“If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor,” the clinic advises. “Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings based on your personal history.”