Scrubbing floors cuts risk of breast cancer
DOING heavy household chores could slash a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by a third, experts have found.
Scrubbing floors, washing windows and digging the garden are just as effective as running, cycling and playing tennis at warding off the illness, a study claims.
But lighter tasks like vacuuming and painting, or pastimes like bowls and walking do not have the same effect, said the report for the journal Breast Cancer Research.
Women who had an hour of vigorous activity each day, plus six hours of light exercise, were least likely to develop breast cancer, according to the 11-year study of 32,269 women. Their risk was cut by as much as a third.
Researchers said there was “an inverse association between physical activity and postmenopausal breast cancer”.
But they added: “Risk reduction appeared to be limited to vigorous forms of activity.”
Overweight women were not found to benefit from any reduced risk, though the more active women tended to be slimmer non-smokers.
“The risk among these women decreased by about 30 per cent compared with women with no vigorous activity,” the report said.
Dr Michael Leitzmann of Regensburg University in Germany, one of the report’s authors, said rigorous exercise may enhance the body’s natural defences to infection and disease.
The study also suggested that a lack of exercise could actually increase the chances of a woman developing the cancer. “A sedentary lifestyle can be a risk factor for the disease – even in women who are not overweight,” it said.
British cancer experts last night welcomed the report. Henry Scowcroft of Cancer Research UK said: “This study adds to the growing body of evidence that breast cancer is less common amongst postmenopausal women who lead an active lifestyle.
“Although this paper suggests vigorous activity gives the most benefit, several other studies have shown that less intense activity can also be beneficial in the long run.”
Experts recommend women exercise for 30 to 45 minutes, five times a week to reduce their risk of breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women.