October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in women, behind skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s estimated in the U.S. this year that more than 230,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and more than 62,000 others will be diagnosed with carcinoma in situ (CIS). CIS is a non-invasive, early form of breast cancer.

Many breast cancer risk factors lie outside our control including genes, age, race, and having dense breast tissue. However, some risk factors fall within our control, including not smoking or drinking alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and physical activity.

A recent University of Minnesota study found moderate exercise to be especially beneficial for premenopausal women at risk for breast cancer. Researchers divided hundreds of premenopausal women into 2 groups. One group was sedentary during the 16-week study. The other group exercised 5 days per week.

Researchers studied urine samples at the beginning and end of the study. Levels of estrogen and estrogen metabolites were recorded. Previous studies have shown metabolite ratios can affect the risk of breast cancer.

The results? Researchers saw a shift in the metabolite ratios. One type increased while another type decreased in a combination believed to help reduce the risk of breast cancer. There was no metabolite shift for the women in the sedentary group.

In addition to improved metabolite ratios, the exercise group increased muscle and improved body composition.

As you think pink this October, think exercise as one way to help lower the risk of this prevalent and devastating disease.

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