Running season is in full swing here in Miami as well as in many other parts of the country and during the month of October it gets a serious meaningful boost because of the number of runs associated with breast cancer research, fundraising and awareness. So, being that we are in October, it is a great time to point out that the number of studies continue to accumulate data and findings that support the notion that running and general aerobic exercise lowers your risk of cancer.
These studies have been able to prove that running does in fact reduce your chances of dying of cancer; however, the jury is still out as to why it is such. I guess we shouldn’t get too hung up as to why, rather we should broadcast to our friends and family to go out and run! According to a study recently published online in the journal Cancer, researchers found that physical activity appears to reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Most of the public messaging in recent years has been with regards to encouraging check-ups to increase the likelihood of early detection but the messaging should also focus on exercise as well. The great thing is that many of the walks and runs benefiting cancer-fighting related causes do in fact get people off their couches and into running and walking shoes.
So how much running or physical activity is actually needed to lower your chances of developing cancer? Studies have shown that the intensity or type of physical activity didn’t matter as much as the frequency. It is worth noting, though, that not watching your weight can offset the benefits of running as they relate to reducing your risk of cancer so make sure that you watch what you eat! The findings of one study showed that of the 3,000 women subjects in the study, those that exercised more than 10 hours per week had a breast cancer risk of about 30% lower than those who were less active. That may sound like a lot but the good news is that the intensity wasn’t a factor so you can jog lightly, go on a brisk walk or start training for the Miami Marathon or Half Marathon! Make sure that you’re sweating though. If not, there is a good chance that you aren’t doing much.
One other important conclusion of the study is that age isn’t a factor in determining the decreased risk of cancer. Running or physical activity reduced breast cancer risk in younger women during their reproductive years and older women after menopause. There is an additional study done more recently, which was referenced by Runner’s World, that might explain why this is the case, as it was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. Changes in the estrogen metabolism can be one way that running lowers breast cancer risk.
In addition to the scientific data supporting the notion that exercise gives us a protective benefit, the argument of another benefit to running is that if in fact you were to be so unlucky as to have to deal with a terrible disease such as cancer or other terminal disease, it is best to have your body in the best possible condition to fight. Cancer patients and other disease-stricken patients who run or exercise frequently report having more overall energy while in the midst of their treatments.
All signs point to running giving us a better chance at a healthier life so don’t waste time this month. Go grab your running shoes and pink shirts and run to beat cancer! Don’t Stop, Miami!
By Frankie Ruiz