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Teen obesity, exercise, and breast cancer

Posted Oct 26 2009 11:03pm

This month, October 2009, is  Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  What does breast cancer have to do with  teenage girls? A lot.  Is there a connection between obesity and breast cancer?  Yes.  And now, just as important to know,... a way to help protect teenage girls from developing breast cancer in middle age.

It has been shown already that there seems to be a link between the amount of time a female body is exposed to estrogen, the female hormone, and the probability of being diagnosed with breast cancer -- a direct correlation.  The more time of exposure to estrogens (i.e. early menstruation),  the higher the probability of breast cancer.  To further complicate things, you should also know that fat produces estrogen, especially relevant after menopause.  So, the more overweight that women are, the more fat is present on their bodies, and the more likely they are to produce larger quantities of estrogen that could more likely predispose them to the development of breast cancer.

So, what can we do to decrease this amount of estrogen exposure and to decrease fatty tissue?  One simple answer --  EXERCISE!  

Very interesting research results from study were featured on the  CBS The Early Show  last year and reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute --  the greatest benefit to averting breast cancer in middle age was doing regular exercise  between the ages of 12-22 years!   And we are not talking major extreme sports; the  exercise  reported was well within the range of what is currently recommended for prime health benefits.  

The women at lowest risk reported doing vigorous exercise about 3 hours, 15 minutes per week or about 13 hours per week of walking, for the not so athletic!  Translate that to about 1 hour 45 minutes of walking per day per week -- we need to be aiming at getting 5,000 steps per day (approximately 5 miles)  and tack on another 30-45 minutes of say, fast walking, and you have just decreased your risk of breast cancer significantly!  That's great news!

Picture of Breast Cancer Awareness ribbon by Robert Mobley, PhotoXpress

For more info: Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the CureTeen Growth - an online health resource for teens

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