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Exercise fights breast cancer

A study of more than 25,000 women over a nine-year period found that exercise can reduce your risk of breast cancer. In fact, women who exercised at least four hours a week had a 37 percent lower breast-cancer risk than women who did not exercise at all. The study also found that women who were very active at work — those whose job involved lots of lifting and walking — reduced their risk by about 25 percent.

Does this mean you should change jobs?

No, but taking the stairs instead of the elevator, using the copier down the hall and being more active in your day-to-day life could help. The more exercise you do, the better. That's for a whole host of reasons, ranging from lowering your blood pressure to reducing your risk of diabetes.

Another benefit of exercise is keeping your weight under control. Heavier women in their 40s and 50s have roughly double the risk of developing breast cancer as lean women of the same age. Furthermore, heavy 50-something women who have gained more than 10 pounds since they were in their 40s have about triple the risk of falling victim to breast cancer compared with thinner women whose weight has remained about the same.

Seven facts about breast cancer that may surprise you.

  1. All women are at risk. Approximately 70 percent of breast cancers occur in women with no signs of risk factors such as family history, early menstruation or late or no child birth.
  2. Breast cancer is the leading killer of American women ages 35 to 54.
  3. There are 1.8 million women in the U.S. who've been diagnosed with breast cancer. One million others have the disease and do not know it yet.
  4. The death rate from breast cancer has not been reduced in more than 50 years. And the number of cases of breast cancer among American women has been rising for the past 30 years.
  5. In just one year, the deaths from breast cancer nearly equal the 58,000 Americans killed in the entire 12-year Vietnam War.
  6. Approximately 182,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year — 46,000 will die of the disease in the same period.
  7. One out of every eight American women will develop breast cancer some time in her life. That rate has more than doubled in the past 30 years.

Mammograms save lives

More than 80 percent of breast cancer deaths occur in women age 50 and older, with doctors estimating that that number could be cut by 30 percent if all older women had a mammogram. If you're age 40 or older, talk to your doctor about scheduling a mammogram. It could save your life!

Baptist Health Louisville offers mammography services through its Women's Imaging Services, located in the hospital. For more information about mammography services, call the Baptist Health Information Center at (502) 897-8131.