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To reduce cancer risk, how much exercise do I need?

Posted on Jun. 28, 2012 ( comments)

It’s estimated that 35,790 new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year in Washington state, according to American Cancer Society projections. Alarmingly, cancer accounts for one in four deaths in this country.

While there’s no “quick fix” in our ongoing quest to prevent cancer, an abundant body of scientific evidence points out that physical activity may reduce the risk of breast, colon and uterine cancers.

Just this week, the journal Cancer published a new study that found a 30 percent decrease in the risk of breast cancer in women who exercise 10 hours a week, compared with sedentary women.

The intensity level of the activity didn’t appear to matter: all you need to do is stay physically active, whether it’s walking, doing household chores, or gardening.

As a general rule, each week adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity. If at all possible, such physical activity should spread throughout the week – for example, four to five separate sessions of 30 to 40 minutes each.

Moderate intensity activities include dancing, golfing, playing baseball/softball, roller skating and even mowing the lawn.

Vigorous intensity activities, on the other hand, include running, swimming, fast bicycling, playing soccer, basketball, digging, carrying a heavy object and hauling.

If you need any more motivation, consider this: a physically active lifestyle is also associated with a reduced risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis.

Posted in: Cancer

About The Author

Chris-Chen Dr. Chris Chen

Chris Chen, MD, MPH, is an oncologist at the MultiCare Regional Cancer Center in Tacoma. He specializes in Hematology, Oncology/Hematology (Cancer and Blood Disorders) and Medical Oncology. For more information, call 253-403-1677 or visit

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