For breast cancer survivors, post-diagnosis running is associated with reduced mortality versus walking, according to a study published online Jan. 27 in the International Journal of Cancer.
The Study: Paul T. Williams, Ph.D., from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, examined whether post-diagnosis running and walking differ in their impact on breast cancer mortality. Mortality was compared with baseline exercise energy expenditure (metabolic equivalents [METs], with 1 MET-hour equivalent to 1 km run) in 272 runners and 714 walkers previously diagnosed with breast cancer (mean, 7.9 years before baseline).
Results: During 9.1 years of surveillance, 46 women died from breast cancer (13 runners and 33 walkers). The researchers found that breast cancer deaths decreased an average of 24 percent MET-hours/day (p = 0.004) for all runners and walkers combined. The decrease was significantly greater for running than walking (p = 0.03). For the runners, there was an average decrease in breast cancer mortality of 40.9 percent per MET-hours/day run (P = 0.0004). Compared with less than 1.07 MET-hours/day run, breast cancer mortality was 87.4 percent lower for 1.8 to 3.6 MET-hours/day (P = 0.008) and 95.4 percent lower for the ≥3.6 MET-hours/day (P = 0.0004). For the 714 walkers, there was a nonsignificant 4.6 percent decrease seen in breast cancer mortality per MET-hours/day walked (P = 0.71).
“In conclusion, we have shown that breast cancer mortality in post-diagnosis runners may be lower than that of post-diagnosis walkers, and that exceeding the public health recommendation for physical activity was better than merely achieving it,” Williams writes.
My Take: If you can exercise vigorously, great. If not, even a brisk walk (thirty minutes, five times per week) may lower your risk of breast cancer progression and death, heart disease, stroke, and potentially a host of other problems (including perhaps even dementia). I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and I wear a pedometer.
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Reference: International Journal of Cancer. Published online 27 January 2014.