News & Insights 18 October 2022

October is ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ Month: Increasing your everyday physical activity can prevent Breast Cancer!

October is dedicated to ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’, yet many people remain unaware of the potential of physical activity for reducing the risk of developing chronic health conditions, including many different cancers. To do our bit to raise awareness, we thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss the latest developments around breast cancer, to let you know how increasing the level of physical activity in your daily routine may prevent it!

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women, claiming 11,500 lives in the UK each year. The first symptom of breast cancer that most women notice is a lump or an area of thickened tissue under the breast, so it is vital to see your GP as soon as possible if you notice any unusual changes. The earlier it is detected the better the outlook! Unfortunately, every 10 minutes a woman in the UK is diagnosed with breast cancer, and if rates continue their current trajectory, this is set to rise to one woman being diagnosed every eight minutes within the next 10 years. This type of cancer is most common in women over the age of 50 but can affect younger women and even some men too. Such alarming statistics emphasise the importance of understanding what can be done to prevent breast cancer and subsequently reduce the number of premature deaths attributable to breast cancer among the population.

A promising study published in 2022 has found ‘strong evidence’ that minimising sedentary time and increasing overall physical activity levels can reduce the likelihood of developing breast cancer. Mendelian randomisation was used to determine whether a history of high physical activity and sedentary time were causally related to breast cancer. Mendelian randomisation uses genetic variants as proxies for a specific risk factor, in this case lifelong physical activity levels and sedentary behaviour. 130,957 European women with breast cancer tumours were compared to 54,452 healthy women in this study.

A direct cause-and-effect relationship, due to the presence of specific genes, was found by the international team of scientists. Women who possess genes that were indicative of high levels of sedentary time, had a 104% greater risk of developing breast cancer. In addition, individuals with genes indicative of their engagement in vigorous intensity physical activity on 3 or more days a week were 38% less likely to develop the disease. Sedentary time refers to activity that involves burning less than 1.8x the amount of energy that you would be burning at complete rest, whilst vigorous intensity physical activity refers to any period in which you are burning 6x your resting energy expenditure.

“Increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary time are already recommended for cancer prevention. However, more widespread adoption of active lifestyles may reduce the burden from the most common cancer in women.” – Brigid Lynch, Deputy Head of Cancer Epidemiology Division at the Cancer Council Victoria, Australia.

This study has successfully identified a direct cause-and-effect link between sedentary time and breast cancer, suggesting that increasing your non-sedentary time can provide a protective barrier against developing breast cancer. This is important, as it suggests that whilst vigorous intensity physical activity also carries a protective benefit, physical activity does not need to be of high intensity in order to benefit your health. Rather, this study reinforces the idea that ‘every move we make matters’ and that increasing levels of day-to-day movement can be vital for preventing breast cancer among women.

At KiActiv®, we strongly believe that everyday physical activity can act as a personalised medicine against many long-term health conditions. Every move we make adds up over the course of the day, and this is beneficial for health. Increasing your physical activity does not have to be overwhelming. Making small and sustainable changes to your daily routine will result in significant health benefits. Participating in KiActiv® Health will help you to develop a deep understanding and awareness of your current activity levels and provide you with the necessary knowledge and support to make sustainable physical activity behaviour change. Take the first step towards improving your health and wellbeing today by clicking ‘Get Started,’ and we look forward to supporting you on your journey to a healthier, happier you!

The KiActiv® Team