The Breast Cancer Society of Canada

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Breast cancer risk lowered up to 25% by walking 1 hour a day

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Our Executive Director, Marsha Davidson, had the pleasure of being interviewed by several CBC radio stations this week about a very exciting breast cancer study recently published by the American Cancer Society. Here are all the details from the interview between Marsha Davidson and Doug Dirks of CBC Calgary on the Homestretch:

woman walking

1 hour of vigorous walking per day can decrease your risk of getting breast cancer by 25% according to a new study by the American Cancer Society.

Q: What did this study discover?
A: This is quite exciting news. This study found that there is a significant link between even moderate exercise and lowering the risk of breast cancer, especially in menopausal women.

Q: What do the numbers tell us?
A: First of all, 52% of breast cancer cases are in women between the age of 50-69, which is the post-menopausal group. Moderate exercise of 1 hour per day will lower their risk of breast cancer by about 14%. If these women step it up a bit, and walk a little more vigorously then it can even reduce risk by up to 25%. This is very encouraging because everyone can take some time to walk.

Q: And what role does walking contribute to a lowered risk breast cancer?
A: The study showed that walking effects the levels of estrogen in women who walk. Many breast cancers are linked to estrogen and are very sensitive to estrogen. As women age, there is a chance that they will have higher levels of estrogen in their bodies. Walking is a way to reduce the levels of estrogen in a woman’s body, which therefore reduces her risk of breast cancer.

Q: We have a tendency to get very excited about studies that look promising, but this study had a very significant sample size. So how significant is this study, in your opinion?
A: This study is great; it is very significant. It was done by the American Cancer Society and had a sample size of about 73,000 people, over a 17 year period. So this is a very big study, big sample, and a big timeline to follow the trends of these people. This will be very valuable information going forward.

Q: What about the economic barriers? Because in this case if it’s just strictly walking, you don’t really need a gym membership, right?
A: No. There are no barriers here for anyone. Anyone can participate in this. It doesn’t even have to be a full hour of walking at once. It can be split up throughout the day if that is more doable for people.

Q: How can younger women benefit from the findings of this study?
A: This study focused on women in the post-menopausal group, but if I were a younger woman, I would see this as an opportunity to adopt this healthy lifestyle now, so I can continue it through my life and reap the benefits now and in the future.

Q: And it’s not  just about exercise. What are some of the other factors younger and old women should be cognizant of?
A: Many studies have pointed towards a healthy lifestyle as a way of preventing breast cancer in the first place. Unfortunately there are no guarantees that a healthy lifestyle will prevent breast cancer, but you are certainly lowering your risk. Other factors include keeping your body weight in the normal range, keeping alcohol consumption moderate, and eating well. All of those things we should be doing every day really do make a difference, and this study has helped prove that.

Q: Now how can the Breast Cancer Society of Canada make use of this new information about exercise and breast cancer?
A: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What a better time to remind people to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep their risks low, for not only breast cancer but for many types of chronic diseases, to have a better chance to not get these diseases in the first place.

Q: It’s great from a research standpoint, and also from a healthcare standpoint, but what about the economic spin-off if more women undertake these exercise regimes, and taking off some pressure on our health care system as we get older?
A: Yes, we’ve got a whole bunch of aging people, baby boomers, which is a huge stress on the health care system in Canada. If we can get more people out of the hospital and treatment centres in the first place, and just living healthy lives, then we all benefit.

Q: What can you tell us about the Breast Cancer Society of Canada’s upcoming fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness Month?
A: Dress for the Cause is a great event! We have thousands of businesses registered across Canada to wear pink to work on October 16, raise some money, have fun, and it all goes towards breast cancer research.

Q: Where can people find more information about Dress for the Cause?
A: People can find more information at

Click here to read the original article published by the American Cancer Society.

Click here for a link to Marsha’s interview with CBC Calgary on the Homestretch

Click here for a link to Marsha’s interview with CBC Maritime Noon


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