Breast Cancer, Exercise, and Diet

Older woman walkingWomen who are both physically active, exercising for 30 minutes daily (walking) 6 days a week and who consume 6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily can reduce their risk of recurrence of breast cancer by 50%, regardless of age, stage of disease, or body mass index. High insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) levels are associated with an increased breast cancer risk and/or death from the disease. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, decreases insulin, IGF-I and IGFBP-3 and can improve survival in women diagnosed with breast cancer. Among women who gain weight after breast cancer diagnosis, each 5-kg gain is associated with a 12% increase in death from all causes, a 13% increase in breast cancer deaths, and a 19% increase in cardiovascular disease related deaths.

Women who are categorized as obese tend to have higher biochemical markers for inflammation, including IL-6, TNF-α  and VEGF. One study of 44 overweight participants compared with 24 controls incorporated intervention strategies to promote increased physical activity and diet modification over a 16 week period. Physical activity and weight loss resulted in a decrease in the inflammatory markers IL-6 and TNF-α in the intervention group.

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