Fitness Fights Back

My mother had it. A close friend had it, too. My aunt had it. A neighbor had it. Even her friend had it. What is it? Breast cancer. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in life. Because the rate of incidence increases as women age, estimates of risk at particular age spans are more meaningful than lifetime risk.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the chance that a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer is:

  • 1 in 233 between the ages 30 – 39
  • 1 in 69 between the ages 40 – 49
  • 1 in 38 between the ages 50 – 59
  • 1 in 27 between the ages of 60 – 69

The above statistics represent the probability for the entire population. It is important to note that an individual’s risk may be higher or lower depending on family history, reproductive history, race/ethnicity and lifestyle factors, such as physical activity, alcohol consumption, and being overweight or obese. The two greatest risk factors in developing breast cancer are being female and aging–neither of which we have any control over.

If you are curious about your individual risk, use this calculator developed by the National Cancer Institute. If you are concerned about your risk, discuss it with your doctor.

The role of nutrition and exercise in preventing cancer is not fully known, but healthy lifestyle habits are increasingly linked with reduced risk and improved outcomes for individuals diagnosed with and being treated for cancer. Here are some recent headlines:

Regular Exercise in Middle Age Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

Weight Lifting Benefits Breast Cancer Survivors

Excess Body Weight Causes Over 124,000 Cancers a Year in Europe

Protect Your Breasts – Get Your Heart Pumping

Exercise Can Cut Risk of Dying from Breast Cancer

Exercise and Yoga Improves Quality of Life in Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Supervised Exercise May Relieve Fatigue During Chemotherapy

Lifetime Exercise May Cut Breast Cancer Death Risk and Recurrence

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As health and fitness professionals, we can have a direct impact on the lives of so many people. Educate others and encourage them to be physically active and follow a healthy diet. You may save a life!

(Source: SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2003. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute, 2006.)

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