In the News: Walking, quality sleep, broccoli, olive oil and a daily dose of happiness can significantly cut risk of breast cancer

A recent study from Nagoya City University in Japan (published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention), found that walking for just half an hour a day can more than halve a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Women who walked regularly and take further gentle exercise were 55 per cent less likely to get a tumour than those who did not keep fit. The findings back earlier studies, which also indicate that gentle exercise is crucial for preventing the disease.


Another study from the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Sendal, Japan, (published late last year in the British Journal of Cancer) found that exercise can cut the risk of breast cancer overall (because it helps reduce body fat and fat tissue produces more oestrogen, which increases cancer risk), but only if exercise is followed by a good night’s sleep. The US study of thousands of women found significantly lower levels of breast caner among the most physically active, but sleeping less than seven hours a night wiped out the benefits and actually increased the risk of cancer. Scientists believe sleep disruption interferes with the production of a vital hormone called melatonin, which could play an important role in protecting against cancer.


In addition to regular exercise and quality sleep, research from the University of California (published last month in the journal of Carcinogenesis) suggests that eating broccoli regularly can dramatically decrease the risk of breast cancer. Along with other cruciferous vegetables, such as kale and cauliflower, broccoli is already known to contain certain chemicals that prevent cancer. But this study found that specific compounds in broccoli, called isothiocyanates, inhibit the rapid growth of tumour cells in a similar way to chemotherapy drugs. Virgin olive oil also has potent anti-cancer properties according to a study released this month from the Catalan Institute of Oncology and published in the journal BMC Cancer.


Last, but by no means least, a daily dose of happiness can also protect against cancer. A study from Ben Gurion University of Negev (and published in the journal BMC cancer last month) found that women who were happy and had a positive outlook could cut their risk of cancer by 25 percent. However, a stressful life could have the opposite effect. Women who suffered two or more traumatic events, such as divorce or bereavement, had a 62 per cent greater risk of cancer than those whose lives were less stressful.

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