Got Breast Cancer? Exercise Lowers Mortality
Physical activity in breast cancer survivors: A systematic review and meta-analysis on overall and breast cancer survival.
There is evidence that higher levels of exercise are associated with a lower risk of several cancer types. Today, we turn to breast cancer. Here is what you need to know:
In a 2019 systematic review, the most active breast cancer survivors had a 42 percent lower chance of death from any cause (during the study period), and a 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer mortality than the least physically active.
Here’s what the researchers did to quantify the association between physical activity after breast cancer diagnosis and all-cause death, breast cancer mortality, and breast cancer recurrence.
Investigators searched PubMed until November 2017 for observational studies investigating any physical activity associated with total mortality, breast cancer mortality, and breast cancer recurrence among women with a breast cancer diagnosis.
They included ten studies in the overview. Follow-up ranged from 3.5 to 12.7 years. Compared to women in the lowest recreational physical activity level, those in the highest level had a lower risk of all-cause mortality (42 percent lower relative risk; 8 studies), of death from breast cancer (40 percent lower relative risk; 5 studies) and a lower, albeit non-significant, risk of recurrence (21 percent lower risk; 5 studies).
The highest recreational physical activity after a breast cancer diagnosis can lower overall and breast cancer-specific mortality. The mortality improvements may reflect the favorable impact of physical activity on cardiovascular mortality and a possible positive influence on breast cancer survival.
I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and I encourage you to aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate activity. Take that walk (30 minutes daily, five days per week) if you can!
- McTiernan A, Friedenreich CM, Katzmarzyk PT, et al. Physical activity in cancer prevention and survival: A systematic review. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2019; 51(6):1252–1261.
- Rezende LFM, Sá TH, Markozannes G, et al. Physical activity and cancer: an umbrella review of the literature including 22 major anatomical sites and 770 000 cancer cases. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2018; 52(13):826–833.
- Patel AV, Friedenreich CM, Moore SC, et al. American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable Report on physical activity, sedentary behavior, and cancer prevention and control. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2019; 51(11):2391–2402.