Just 30 minutes of regular physical activity also slashes their risk of a tumour returning by more than half, according to research.
Lead author Dr Rikki Cannioto said yoga and swimming work just as well. She said: “Aiming for as little as two and a half hours weekly exercise has a big impact for women with high-risk breast cancer.”
The findings are based on 1,607 US women whose breast cancers had spread to the lymph nodes or whose primary tumour was large.
Participants filled in a questionnaire about their exercise habits, as well as routines prior to their diagnosis.
Dr Cannioto, an epidemiologist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, New York, said: “Our research shows some physical activity is far better, in terms of cancer survival, than no activity at all.”
The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found those who exercise not only lived longer but were more likely to remain cancer-free after treatment.
Research has long shown a positive link between exercise and cancer survival. People who exercise more – before or after treatment – appear to live longer.
But this is the first study to show that high-risk patients who exercised had a lower chance of breast cancer returning after treatment.
Another discovery was the time scale. Patients were not only asked about their exercise before and after cancer treatment – but during chemotherapy, too.
Those who did two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week, before and after treatment, were 68 and 55 percent less likely to die, or have their cancer return, respectively.
Those who started exercising only after treatment also saw big benefits – a 46 and 43 per cent fall in recurrence and death rate, respectively.
Aerobic A few hours of consistent, weekly exercise resulted in the same survival benefits as longer spells, said Dr Cannioto.
She added: “What these results suggest for doctors – and patients – is that even a modest exercise routine, taken up after cancer treatment, can help women with high-risk breast cancer live longer and healthier lives.
“It is never too late to start walking, doing yoga, cycling, or swimming – and activity appears to pay off.”
More than 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in Britain. It claims around 11,400 lives annually.
Source: | Daily Express
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