Increased Physical Activity Reduces Breast Cancer Risk, International Study Suggests

Increasing physical activity and reducing time spent sedentary is likely to decrease the risk of breast cancer, a study of more than 100,000 women suggests. An international team including researchers from Australia, the UK and US have used genetic analysis to establish a causal relationship between overall activity levels and cancer risk.

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, included data from 130,957 women, 76,505 of whom had breast cancer. While previous research has shown a correlation between physical activity and lowered risk of breast cancer, proving causation has been difficult.

“There has always been a little bit of uncertainty as to whether physical activity truly causes a lower rate of breast cancer or whether that relationship is confounded by other factors,” said Associate Prof Brigid Lynch of Cancer Council Victoria, the study’s senior author.

“For example, women who tend to be more physically active might have healthier lifestyles in other ways as well.”Lynch said the new study “suggests that it is certainly a causal effect: physical activity does reduce your risk of developing breast cancer”.“We saw a risk reduction across all breast cancer types,” she said.

The researchers used a technique known as Mendelian randomisation to establish causality, which uses genetic variants as proxies for particular traits – in this case, physical activity and time spent sitting or reclining.They found that a higher level of physical activity, or general movement, was associated with a 41% reduction in invasive breast cancer risk.

In pre- and perimenopausal women, vigorous physical activity at least three days per week was linked to a 38% lower risk of breast cancer compared to no vigorous activity.“For every 100 odd minutes [of sedentary time] per day we observed a 20% risk increase in breast cancer overall, and a doubling of risk for triple-negative breast cancer [which is more aggressive and difficult to treat],” Lynch said.

Physical activity is thought to lower breast cancer risk because it decreases the amount of both oestrogen and androgen hormones circulating in the bloodstream. A reduction in inflammation may also be a factor.“There’s always been a lot of focus on other health behaviours like healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol intake,” Lynch said. “There’s a big role for physical activity in preventing cancer.”

The research drew data from the UK Biobank as well as 76 other studies conducted as part of the Breast Cancer Association Consortium.One limitation of the study was that it only included data from women of European ancestry.“We can’t say for sure that these genetic instruments are applicable across different racial backgrounds,” Lynch said.

But she added that large observational studies in Asia and for women of different ethnicities in the US have found correlations between physical activity and reduced risk.“We do already recommend that physical activity is one of things you can do to reduce your breast cancer risk,” said Associate Prof Wendy Ingman of the University of Adelaide, who was not involved in the study.

Other factors associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer include minimising alcohol intake, and breastfeeding. “The longer a woman breastfeeds for, the less breast cancer risk she has,” Ingman said.

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Source: Increased physical activity reduces breast cancer risk, international study suggests | Australia news | The Guardian

Critics by Vanessa B. Sheppard, PhD, Kepher Makambi, PhD, Teletia Taylor, PhD, Sherrie Flynt Wallington, PhD, Jennifer Sween, MS, and Lucile Adams-Campbell, PhD

A population-based case-control study was conducted with 199 women (97 cases and 102 controls) from the Washington, DC metro area. A self-report physical activity questionnaire elicited responses on walking for exercise and vigorous physical activity (e.g., running, aerobics, etc.) in the past year. Responses were used to calculate a metabolic equivalent (MET) score [MET-hours/week = hours/week vigorous activity×7+ hours/week walking ×3]. The MET score was categorized into low, medium and high tertiles. Multivariate logistic regression examined the association between physical activity and breast cancer.

African American women who engaged in vigorous physical activity (> 2 hours/week in the past year) had a 64% reduced risk of breast cancer compared to those who did not participate in any vigorous activity (odds ratio, OR = 0.36; 95% confidence interval, CI = 0.17–0.75). We also found a 64% reduced breast cancer risk in women with a high versus low tertile of total activity (OR = 0.36; 95% CI = 0.16–0.79). For postmenopausal women, vigorous physical activity and total activity (high versus low tertile) also had an inverse relationship with breast cancer (p<.05).

Data regarding the association of physical activity and breast cancer has been equivocal and lacking for African American women. This study found that modest levels of physical activity reduced breast cancer risk in this group. Targeted efforts are needed to encourage more African American women to engage in physical activity.

Breast cancer is the leading cancer diagnosed in US women. With more than 190,000 cases diagnosed each year, there are few prevention strategies. Known risk factors, such as genetic mutations and family history of cancer, account for only 30% of a woman’s risk for being diagnosed with breast cancer. Thus, lifestyle changes may reduce a woman’s breast cancer risk.

Research suggests that an increase in physical activity, in particular, among sedentary, post-menopausal women changes their hormone levels to reflect a lower risk of breast cancer diagnosis. Therefore, physical activity may be one of the best approaches towards the primary prevention of breast cancer.

The relationship between physical activity and breast risk is complex and may be explained by certain molecular mechanisms. It is plausible that physical activity could affect breast cancer risk because it also affects other risk factors, such as menstrual cycle, body mass, immune system, and hormones such as IGF. It is well accepted that physical inactivity increases one’s risk of obesity. Obesity has separately been considered a breast cancer risk factor and there is an inverse relationship between obesity and physical activity.

How physical activity and obesity might confound each other is unknown; obesity is positively associated with breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women but inversely associated with risk in premenopausal women. Further, some data suggests that adult weight gain, rather than BMI, affects breast cancer risk, especially among non users of hormonal replacement therapy.

Studies have shown a relationship between obesity and risk of breast cancer but in samples of mostly Caucasian women.Research, although equivocal, suggest that physical activity is inversely related to breast cancer risk in both pre- and postmenopausal women. Considering African American women have higher rates of being overweight or obese, limited physical activity may be a significant breast cancer risk factor in this population. Some data in African American women suggests that breast cancer risk is reduced with increased physical activity.

In a study by Adams-Campbell et al, strenuous physical activity was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer in African American women. This study, however, focused only on strenuous physical activity levels. Bernstein et al also found that increased physical activity reduces breast cancer risk in African-American women. However, this study also lacked data on the effect of moderate intensity exercise in this population. More research is needed to determine whether moderate levels of physical activity can also reduce breast cancer risk in this population.

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What Lifestyle Changes Will Improve Your Health Longterm

If you don’t take care of your body, you will likely be exposed to avoidable health complications. Also, most people practice poor feeding habits without knowing it and may become victims of inadequate nutrition. You may need to add exercise to your health plan as long-term health goes beyond eating well. The following lifestyle changes are worth your effort to improve your health in the long term.

1. Start a Work-out Routine

A workout routine can be risky for those with a sedentary lifestyle, especially if they lead a stressful life and overeat. A workout routine should include cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Start with a general routine with specific elements like a warm-up, muscle groups being worked on, cool down, and stretching. Such a simple routine can help you become healthier. They may also help you build better habits like getting off the couch or taking breaks when working at the computer.

2. Practice Yoga and Meditation

Yoga is an ancient practice that heals the body and mind. It was designed to help individuals focus and work on their flexibility and strength. There are different types of yoga-like Bikram and vinyasa, among others. If you want to enjoy the full benefits of yoga, find a local instructor, and attend yoga classes regularly. You can research a 200 hour yoga teacher training for 2 weeks course if it becomes an ongoing interest for yourself. You can also do it at home or alone by looking up online tutorials on how to perform each pose correctly.

3. Eat Nutrient-rich Foods

A diet rich in nutrients is a healthy one. Eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables and fruits. It will help you maintain weight and keep your body hydrated and energized. It also promotes a healthy heart and boosts brain function. Include fish, lean meats, nuts, beans, and seeds in your diet. You can also add olive oil to your cooking to boost the flavor of meat dishes or grains. Also, you may need to eat fiber-rich foods. Fiber fills you up without adding fat or calories to your diet. It also helps with digestion and prevents constipation. You can add fiber to your diet by eating more fruits, nuts, seeds, and beans.

4. Avoid Excessive Drinking and Smoking

Too much alcohol damages your liver, heart, and other organs. Smoking reduces your lung capacity, damages arteries, and causes lung cancer. If you must drink and smoke, limit it to one drink or cigarette a day. You can also consider switching to less harmful alternatives like e-cigarettes or electronic hookah pens for smoking.

5. Drink Plenty of Water

Water as a beverage is essential for life, but it is also necessary when working out regularly. You can also add a pinch of salt or lemon juice to make it more refreshing and flavorful. Drinking plenty of water helps you stay hydrated, prevents exercise-induced dehydration, promotes weight loss, and reduces the risk of heart disease.

6. Avoid Sugary Drinks

Sugar is found in many drinks, but improper feeding patterns can also influence your weight. If you take in too much sugar during a meal, the digestive system gets confused, and you eat more throughout the day. It leads to weight gain. You can limit your intake of sugary drinks and choose water instead.

7. Sleep Well at Night

Sleep is crucial for your overall health. During sleep, the body recuperates, repairs damages, and builds immunity. Lack of sleep can also cause anxiety, depression, and heart problems. Most professionals recommend 8 hours of sleep a day. It is recommended to provide the body with adequate rest. People with busy schedules can still get the required amount by getting sufficient sleep.

8. Keep a Healthy Body Weight

Excess weight can affect your body’s functioning. It includes increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, and increased cholesterol levels. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight may improve your health significantly. Studies show that getting underweight increases the risk of death among the obese.

9. Go for Regular Health Checkups

Regular health checkups can detect early signs of illness and disease. It would help if you got checked regularly to ensure that you do not suffer from high blood pressure. It is a condition that increases your risk of death from complications like heart disease. You should also have your cholesterol levels checked every three to five years if the levels are high. If you do not have a regular doctor, consider private health checks for better healthcare options.

In conclusion, improving your lifestyle can lead to a healthier life. The lifestyle changes mentioned above are easy to implement and will improve your health in the long term.

By: stephaniecsnyder

Source: What Lifestyle Changes Will Improve Your Health Longterm – Life Horizons

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How To Host The Perfect Plastic Free Picnic

Wood and plastic do not belong in our mouths. Period. Metal utensils – whether spoon, fork, or chopstick – are the only objects I’m happy to eat with. For this reason, I was never the one bringing pasta salads to picnics. And let’s not get started on disposable plates. They too have no place in our world. Apart from the toll they take on the environment, they also simply make the world uglier. But despite these self-imposed restrictions, I still very much love picnics.

And at the heart of any good picnic is the perfect picnic food: the sandwich. The sandwich is the most democratic food on earth; it is the universal equaliser.  I once read a recipe for “rose petal sandwiches” in a book titled The Gentle Art of Cookery by Mrs CF Leyel and Olga Hartley from 1921. The recipe is made using “bright-pink Damask or old-fashioned roses” layered in bread with unsalted butter. Although I’ve never made a rose sandwich, the idea of it sounds very romantic.

What I have eaten a lot of are stewed bean sandwiches. Known as “ful” sandwiches in Egypt, where I come from, they are served in pitta bread with a thick, stewed broad-bean filling. Ful sandwiches are most common for breakfast, but also eaten throughout the day. The idea of carbs-on-carbs may sound odd to some, but I will always reach for a bean sandwich or a potato sandwich when presented with the luxury.

Possibly even more important than what goes in the sandwich is the bread. Which brings me to the first (and arguably) most important principle of sandwich making. Good bread makes a good sandwich. Bad bread… should be used for something other than sandwiches. The bread is a vehicle for the filling, and if your vehicle is old and unpleasant, the ride won’t be as good. And the simpler the sandwich, the more important the bread.

Use any kind of bread that you see suitable, as long as it is good. The same is to be said about most cooking. Instead of being dead set on cooking a particular food before going to the market, make the trip, and then decide what actually looks good. The uncertainty may sound stressful to some, but the more you do this the more you’ll get comfortable, and ultimately the better cook you will become.

Five fresh sandwiches :

Courgette/mozzarella/focaccia

Shave courgette into ribbons using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler. Salt the courgette. Slice open focaccia and layer the ribbons of courgette with a slice of mozzarella. Add olive oil and a little more salt.

Tuna/tomato/mayo/rice bread

Tuna and tomato were made for each other. Combine a tablespoon of mayo (preferably homemade, but store-bought will also do) with a few fillets of good-quality canned tuna in olive oil. Flake with a fork. Slice the tomato thin, add salt and layer tomato, then tuna, on top. Slice on the bias and you have a Venetian tramezzino.

Jambon beurre/baguette

A classic, and likely my favourite sandwich of all time. Good-quality butter, flaky salt, a few slices of jambon de Paris and that’s it.

Mortadella/focaccia

I love mortadella flecked with little bits of pistachio. Slice the focaccia, add a few slices of mortadella, and finish with olive oil and salt.

Wild Card Sandwich: beans/pitta

Take yesterday’s leftover beans and cook further until soft and thick. Add cumin to the beans then spoon into a pitta and, you guessed it, add salt and olive oil.

Once you’ve decided on what bread to use, either butter or add olive oil and then add the filling. I often find sandwiches to be overstuffed. Too much filling jammed in between two pieces of bread that can hardly hold it together. Keep things light and don’t overfill. Rule number four of sandwich making is to salt the sandwich. A little coarse salt before closing up the sandwich goes a long way.

To me, a sandwich that is not salted feels incomplete. Finally, avoid sogginess by adding any wet ingredients, and the salt, at the very last minute. I also like to bring boiled eggs as they’re the perfect portable snack. I wrap them in Gohar World egg lace dresses.

Once my picnic food is sorted, I spend time thinking about the setting and ambience. This may sound obvious, but pick a spot in your local park with a view. I live half a block from Central Park in New York and have a favourite area that overlooks a lake. As far as picnic blankets go, I use any piece of fabric large enough to accommodate the guests. This can be a tablecloth, a canvas drop cloth from the art supply shop, or even just a large piece of fabric from the fabric shop. I also like to pack linen napkins.

Recommended How To Host It Laila Gohar shells out on a fava party Yes, you’ll have to do a little washing at the end, but I think it adds a nice touch. In keeping with the plastic-free picnic theme, I pack drinks served in glass bottles. I also like to pick up a bunch of flowers. Why bring flowers when you’re sitting in a park, you ask? Well, because it feels a little fabulous to have flowers not only surrounding you, but also as a part of the picnic itself. Don’t call me over the top. At least I’m not suggesting that you pick Damask roses for a sandwich.

By:

Source: How to host the perfect plastic-free picnic | Financial Times

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Healthy Lifestyle May Increase Life Expectancy, Research Suggests

A healthy lifestyle may allow older people to live longer, with women adding three years and men six to their life expectancy, suggests research published in the journal BMJ. In addition, more of those years may be dementia-free. More than 6 million Americans 65 and older have the most common type of dementia, Alzheimer’s, for which there is no cure.

The study found that, at age 65, women with the healthiest lifestyle had an average life expectancy of about 24 years, compared with 21 years for women whose lifestyle was deemed less healthy. Life expectancy for men with the healthiest lifestyle was 23 years, vs. 17 years for men who were less healthy.

The findings came from research that involved 2,449 people who were 65 and older and part of the Chicago Health and Aging Project, which first enrolled participants in 1993.

The current researchers developed a healthy lifestyle scoring system for their participants that encompassed five factors: diet, cognitive activity, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption. People were given one point for each area if they met healthy standards, yielding a final summed score of 0 to 5, with higher scores indicating a healthier lifestyle.

As for living with dementia, those with a score of 4 or 5 healthy factors at age 65 lived with Alzheimer’s for a smaller proportion of their remaining years than did those with a score of 0 or 1. For women, the difference for those with a healthier lifestyle was having Alzheimer’s for 11 percent of their final years vs. 19 percent for those with a less healthy lifestyle; for men, it was 6 percent of their remaining time vs. 12 percent.

The researchers concluded that “prolonged life expectancy owing to a healthy lifestyle is not accompanied by an increased number of years living with Alzheimer’s dementia” but rather by “a larger proportion of remaining years lived without Alzheimer’s dementia.”

People who engage in a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a balanced diet, taking regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and excess alcohol consumption, incur many health benefits, including a longer lifespan.

It was not previously known if this benefit was also seen in people living with multiple conditions. Multimorbidity is the presence of two or more long-term conditions, ranging from anxiety and eczema to cancer and schizophrenia. It has become a major worldwide epidemic. People with multiple conditions have poorer health and a higher risk of death compared with others in the population.

Researchers compared the impact of a healthy lifestyle on life expectancy in people with and without multiple conditions. It was the first study to be able to look at the impact of different lifestyle factors.

The key finding is that a healthy lifestyle is equally important for everyone, whether they have multiple conditions or not. Age is a strong risk factor; even so, young and middle-aged adults who live in deprived areas are the most likely to have multiple conditions. Engaging in a healthy lifestyle could be more difficult for people in this group.

The study also found that certain lifestyle factors, such as smoking and physical activity, were more damaging than others. Public health policies and healthcare professionals could therefore focus on these lifestyle habits. This study suggests this approach would have more impact than costly strategies to address multiple risk factors.

By Linda Searing

Source: Healthy lifestyle may increase life expectancy, research suggests – The Washington Post

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Why Walking Might Be One of The Best Exercises For Health

To walk is to be human. We’re the only species that gets around by standing up and putting one foot in front of the other. In the 6 million years humans have been bipedal, our ability to walk upright has allowed humankind to travel great distances and survive changing climates, environments and landscapes.   

But walking is more than just transportation — it also happens to be really good for us. Countless scientific studies have found that this simple act of moving our feet can provide a number of health benefits and help people live longer. In fact, a walking routine — if done properly — might be the only aerobic exercise people need.

Many people have taken up strolls around the neighborhood and in nature to pass the time during the pandemic — and there are many reasons to keep it up, says Emmanuel Stamatakis, a professor of physical activity, lifestyle and population health at the University of Sydney.

“Regular walking has all the standard benefits of aerobic exercise, such as improvements in the heart and circulatory systems, better blood glucose control, normalization of blood pressure and reduction of anxiety and depression,” Stamatakis says.

The beauty of walking is that it’s free, it doesn’t require a lot of special equipment and can be done almost anywhere. Most people can maintain a walking practice throughout their lifetime. Yet, in the age of CrossFit and high-intensity cardio, walking is perhaps an under-appreciated way to get the heart pumping and muscles working. It also happens to be one of the most studied forms of exercise there is.   

Do You Really Need to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day?

In general, walking is good exercise because it puts our large muscle groups to work, and has a positive effect on most bodily systems, Stamatakis says.

But for the sake of efficiency — how much walking should one aim for? Public health experts have drilled into us the idea that we need 10,000 steps a day — or about five miles. But contrary to popular belief, this recommendation doesn’t come from science. Instead, it stems from a 1960s advertising campaign to promote a pedometer in Japan.

Perhaps because it’s a round number and easy to remember, it stuck. Countries like the U.S. began to include it in broader public health recommendations. Today, it’s often a default step count to reach on walking apps on smartphones and fitness trackers.

Since the 1960s, researchers have studied the 10,000-steps-a day standard and have turned up mixed results. Although clocking 10,000 steps or more a day is certainly a healthy and worthwhile goal — it’s not a one-size-fits-all fitness recommendation.

“Several studies have consistently shown that significant health benefits accrue well below 10,000 steps per day,” Stamatakis says.  

For instance, a recent Harvard study involving more than 16,000 older women found that those who got at least 4,400 steps a day greatly reduced their risk of dying prematurely when compared with less active women. The study also noted that the longevity benefits continued up to 7,500 steps but leveled off after that number. Put simply, 7,500 is also an ideal daily goal with comparable benefits to 10,000 steps.

Stamatakis notes that 7,500 steps also tend to be in line with common public health recommendations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week for adults.

But picking up the pace might be a good idea. As with any exercise, the physical benefits one gains from walking depends on three things: duration, intensity and frequency. Put simply: walk often, walk fast and walk long. The goal is to walk fast enough to raise your heart rate — even if just for a short burst.

 “Any pace is OK, but the faster the walking pace the better,” Stamatakis says. “It’s ideal for 3,000 to 3,500 [of those steps] to be completed at a brisk or fast pace.”

Walk Faster, Live Longer

In a recent review study involving around 50,000 walkers, Stamatakis and his colleagues linked faster walking speeds to a reduced risk of dying from almost everything except cancer. How much you walk, rather than how fast you walk, might be more important for reducing cancer mortality, the review noted.

Similar boosts to longevity have been found in other studies. Recent work published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings analyzed the life expectancy of nearly 475,000 men and women who self-reported as slow or brisk walkers. The faster walkers — around a speed of 3 miles per hour (or, a 20-minute mile) — could expect to live roughly 15 to 20 years longer than slower walkers, or those who clocked 2 mph (a 30-minute mile.)

Participants who considered themselves brisk walkers had an average life expectancy of nearly 87 years for men and 88 years for women. Increases in lifespan were observed across all weight groups the study included.

What’s considered a quick pace is relative to an individual’s fitness level, but it generally falls somewhere between 3 and 5 mph. A cadence of 100 steps per minute or greater is a commonly accepted threshold for turning a walk into a moderately intense exercise.  

While we know walking is good for the body, research is also beginning to reveal how it impacts brain function. Particularly, walking might be an effective way to slow or decrease the cognitive declines that come with growing older.

A study of older, sedentary adults found that walking for six months improved executive functioning, or the ability to plan and organize. Studies also have found that that walking and other aerobic exercises can increase the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in memory and learning.

Researchers think exercises like brisk walking might improve brain plasticity, or the ability to grow new neurons and form new synaptic connections.  

Can You Lose Weight By Walking?

If walking can help you live healthier and longer, can it also help you shed excess pounds? Not exactly. A common misconception is that working out in and of itself can help someone lose weight. Diet is a far more important piece of the weight-loss equation, research suggests.  

At least one study illustrates that daily walks make little difference in weight management. Weight gain is common among first-year college students. Researchers wanted to determine if walking could ward off the pounds. Their study, published in the Journal of Obesity, monitored 120 freshman women over six months. Over the course of 24 weeks, the students walked either 10,000, 12,500 or 15,000 steps a day, six days a week. Researchers tracked their caloric intake and weight — and found that step count didn’t seem to influence the number on the scale. Even students who walked the most still gained around the same amount of weight. 

Often, when someone increases physical activity, some of the body’s normal physiological responses kick in to make up for the calories burned. One might start getting hungry more often and may eat more, without realizing it.

Even if with a tight control on daily caloric intake, it takes a lot of walking to accumulate a meaningful deficit. To put this in perspective, a 155-pound person would burn roughly 500 calories walking for 90 minutes at a rate of 4.5 mph.

However, walking does seem to influence a person’s body composition. Where a person carries fat might be a more important indicator of disease risk than body mass index. Avid walkers tend to have smaller waist circumferences. Waist measurements that are more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men have been linked with a higher risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

So a walk in the park maybe won’t make you “ripped” — but it sure beats sitting.

By Megan Schmidt

Source: https://www.discovermagazine.com

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