Too Little Exercise, Too Much Sitting Could Raise Breast Cancer Risk

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Sitting on the couch or behind a desk could be increasing your risk of breast cancer, a new genetics-driven study suggests.

People more likely to engage in physical activity based on their DNA had a 41% lower risk of invasive breast cancer, researchers report.

Previous research also has shown a link between exercise and reduced cancer risk, but “our study suggests that the strength of the relationship may be even stronger than suggested by observational studies,” said senior researcher Brigid Lynch, deputy head of cancer epidemiology for Cancer Council Victoria, in Melbourne, Australia.

“Our study also suggests that sedentary behavior may increase the risk of breast cancer,” Lynch continued. “The risk increase is greater for receptor-negative tumors, including triple-negative breast cancer — a more aggressive type of breast cancer with a poorer prognosis than other types.”

For this study, the Australian researchers performed a sophisticated genetic analysis of nearly 131,000 women from around the world, including nearly 70,000 who had been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

Previous research has identified genetic variants that are linked to a person’s overall predisposition to work out at all, engage in vigorous exercise or sit around all day, the study authors said.

The researchers applied these known variants to their international sample of women, to see if a genetic inclination for either physical activity or sedentary behavior would influence cancer risk.

Younger women whose genes would typically drive them to work out three or more days a week appear to have a 38% lower risk of breast cancer, the investigators found.

On the other hand, women genetically predisposed to be sedentary were 77% more likely to develop hormone receptor-negative breast cancers.

“The results of our study suggest that reducing the overall duration of sitting time is key,” Lynch said. “For women with desk jobs, try taking walking breaks throughout the day – don’t eat lunch at your desk, go out for a half hour walk instead.”

The findings were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Using genetics to judge a person’s expected physical activity levels is “a little controversial,” but these results jibe with previous studies that have tied exercise to cancer risk using self-reported behavior or wearable trackers that monitored how much people moved, said Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, an expert with the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

“Whether or not this provides a higher level of evidence than actually looking at what people do in terms of their activity and how that’s related to cancer, I think is the source of maybe a little debate,” said Ligibel, an oncologist with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “We already have a fair amount of research that has shown sedentary behavior is a cancer risk factor, and this verifies that using a different way of looking at the relationship.”

However, a genetics-driven study like this “raises interesting scientific questions for next steps,” said Karen Knudsen, chief executive officer at the American Cancer Society.

“What is it about those genetic alterations that are associated with changes in physical activity and reduced cancer risk?” Knudsen said “What are these variations that were identified? How do they affect metabolic programming of the individual? I think these are important next-step questions.”

There are many different theoretical means by which exercise could help ward off cancer, Lynch and Ligibel said.

For example, physical activity decreases the level of circulating sex hormones like estrogen, which “increase the risk of developing breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal women,” Lynch said.

Exercise also suppresses inflammation, enhances the immune system, and lowers insulin levels and other growth factors associated with cancer, Ligibel said.

The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.

Not only does exercise protect against many different types of cancer, but “emerging data suggests that physical activity will reduce the risk of development of aggressive disease,” Knudsen noted.

This study showed some cancer risk benefit with just 50 minutes of moderate activity each week, Lynch said.

“We also found benefits for engaging in vigorous activity more than 10 minutes at a time, at least three times per week,” Lynch said.

Source: HealthDay





Boosting Duration, Intensity and Frequency of Physical Activity May Lower Heart Failure Risk

A six-year analysis of more than 94,000 adults in the U.K. Biobank with no history of heart failure at enrollment has found that engaging in moderate or vigorous physical activity may lower the risk of developing heart failure, according to new research published in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

The study is one of the first to use objectively measured activity levels to estimate heart failure risk. The results are consistent with previous studies finding that performing 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise or 75-150 minutes of vigorous exercise each week may reduce the incidence of heart attack and stroke.

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition that develops when the heart is not capable of pumping sufficient blood to keep up with the body’s needs for blood and oxygen, and it can result in fatigue and difficulty breathing. Heart failure affects more than 6 million adults in the United States, according to the American Heart Association, and more than 86,000 Americans died of heart failure in 2019. The Association recommends adults should engage in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.

“There are many potential ways that regular physical activity may reduce the risk of developing heart failure,” said Frederick K. Ho, Ph.D., co-lead author of the study and a lecturer in public health at the University of Glasgow in Glasgow, Scotland. “For example, physical activity helps prevent weight gain and related cardiometabolic conditions, such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, all of which are risk factors for heart failure. Regular physical exercise may also strengthen the heart muscle, which, in turn, may prevent heart failure from developing.”

The investigators analyzed the health records of 94,739 adults aged 37-73 in the U.K. Biobank – a large research database in the United Kingdom that enrolled and collected health information on 500,000 adults who received care through the National Health Service. The participants in the U.K. Biobank were enrolled in the database between 2006 and 2010 across Scotland, England and Wales.

Data for this study was gathered between 2013-2015. During that time period, the subset of 94,739 participants were randomly invited to enroll in the study via the email address they had provided to the U.K. Biobank. Participants were an average age of 56 years at enrollment; 57% were female, and 96.6% were white adults. At the time each participant was invited, enrolled and analyzed, they had not been diagnosed with heart failure or had a heart attack. Each participant wore a wrist accelerometer for seven consecutive days, 24 hours per day, to measure the intensity and duration of physical activity. After enrollment, data was collected through linked hospital and death records.

During a median follow-up of 6.1 years after the physical activity measurement was conducted, the analysis found:

  • The adults who logged 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity in one week had a 63% lower risk of heart failure; and
  • those who performed 75-150 minutes of vigorous physical activity in one week were estimated to have a 66% lower risk of heart failure compared to participants who engaged in minimal to no moderate or vigorous physical activity.

The estimated risk reductions were adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic conditions, smoking, alcohol intake and dietary factors.

“These findings indicate that every physical movement counts. A leisurely, 10-minute walk is better than sitting and no physical activity. And, if possible, try to walk a little faster, which increases the intensity and potential benefits of exercise,” Ho said.

According to Ho, the study results suggest that going above and beyond the current AHA recommendations for moderate activity may provide greater protection against heart failure. “We found that moderate physical activity has the potential increased cardiovascular risk benefits up until 500 minutes/week, as appropriate for each individual,” he said.

People whose risk factors for heart failure include having a BMI that meets the criteria for overweight or obese, high blood pressure and elevated glucose or cholesterol, may be particularly likely to benefit from increasing their physical activity, according to Ho and colleagues.

“Health care professionals may suggest more physical activity based on a patient’s current lifestyle and health status,” Ho said. “Generally, moderate physical activity is easier to incorporate into daily routines, and it’s generally safer. Vigorous physical activity is sometimes the most time-efficient and may be more suitable for busy people. However, caution is advised for all when beginning a new physical activity regimen to prevent injuries or acute adverse events (such as a heart attack in a formerly sedentary person initiating a vigorous exercise program).”

This observational study cannot prove a cause-and-effect link between the amount and intensity of physical activity and the risk of developing heart failure. Because participants in the U.K. Biobank are overwhelmingly white, further studies would be needed to confirm that these results apply to people from diverse backgrounds who may experience negative social determinants of health.

“Our findings add to the overwhelming body of other evidence, suggesting that maintaining even a modest amount of regular physical activity can help prevent a range of chronic conditions from developing, including heart failure,” said Naveed Sattar, the senior author of the study. Sattar is a professor of metabolic medicine at the Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow.

Source: American Heart Association





Get Moving! Any Sports Can Lower Seniors’ Odds of Early Death

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . . .

Here’s a fresh prescription for seniors who want to live longer and lower their odds of dying from cancer or heart disease: Lace up your running shoes or grab your tennis racket.

A new U.S. National Cancer Institute study found older folks who played racquet sports lowered their risk of death by 16% over a 12-year follow-up. Running cut the risk by 15%.

Daily walking, jogging, swimming laps and playing tennis are some of the sports researchers looked at, but, they said, any moderate physical activity done weekly will do the trick.

“It’s never too late to start,” said lead researcher Eleanor Watts, a postdoctoral fellow. “So if you’re inactive and you’re older, you can still reap substantial rewards by increasing physical activity.”

Exercise increases longevity in several ways, she said. It reduces body fat, lowers blood pressure and reduces inflammation in the body. And there may well be other benefits that future research will uncover.

Reaping the benefits of exercise is only a matter of starting, she stressed.

“Find a recreation activity that you like,” Watts said. “It doesn’t have to be intense. Even going for a walk for 20 minutes a day is really likely to be effective.”

For the study, her team collected data on nearly 273,000 men and women between 59 and 82 years of age who were part of a diet and health study co-sponsored by AARP and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The data showed that people who ran, biked, swam, did other aerobic exercises, played racquet sports, golf or walked to stay active had a 13% lower risk of dying during the study period, compared with those who didn’t exercise. The risk reduction varied by sport.

The type of sport also was tied to the risk of dying from specific diseases. Playing racquet sports reduced the risk of dying from heart disease by 27% and running cut the risk of dying from cancer by 19%, the data showed.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults get 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous activity.

Watts said doing more reduced the risk of early death even more, but the gains were smaller. You reach a point of diminishing returns, she noted.

Even getting less activity than the recommended amount has a benefit. Compared with folks who don’t exercise at all, those who do get in some physical activity may lower their risk of early death by 5%, the researchers found.

Dr. Benjamin Hirsh, director of preventive cardiology at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., reviewed the findings.

“This evidence has been shown numerous times for patients with heart disease,” he said.

But this is one of the few studies to show the benefits of increasing activity for both patients with heart disease and cancer, Hirsh said. The biggest obstacle is getting patients to change their lifestyle and eat right and exercise, he added.

“It is following the basics of diet and greater activity that matter tremendously,” he said. “The real challenge in medicine is trying to get patients to change their behavior. It is one of the most difficult challenges for physicians, even more than diagnosing and treating rare conditions.”

The study was published online in JAMA Network Open.

Source: HealthDay





Everyday Activities That Can Cut Your Odds for Dementia

Reading, doing yoga and spending time with family and friends might help lower your risk of dementia, a new study suggests.

“Previous studies have shown that leisure activities were associated with various health benefits, such as a lower cancer risk, a reduction of atrial fibrillation, and a person’s perception of their own well-being,” said study author Lin Lu, of Peking University Sixth Hospital in Beijing, China.

“However, there is conflicting evidence of the role of leisure activities in the prevention of dementia. Our research found that leisure activities like making crafts, playing sports or volunteering were linked to a reduced risk of dementia,” Lu added.

For the new study, Lu and his team reviewed 38 studies that included more than 2 million people who did not have dementia. Of those, 74,700 developed dementia during the three-year follow-up.

After taking into account factors such as age, sex and education, the investigators found that people who engaged in leisure activities had a 17% lower risk of dementia than those who didn’t.

The study looked at mental, physical and social activities.

Mental activities included reading, writing for pleasure, watching television, listening to the radio, playing games or musical instruments, using a computer and making crafts. Folks who did these activities had a 23% lower risk of dementia.

Physical activities — including walking, running, swimming, bicycling, using exercise machines, playing sports, yoga and dancing — were linked to a 17% lower dementia risk, the researchers found.

Engaging in social activities — such as staying in touch with others, taking classes, joining clubs, volunteering, spending time with relatives or friends, or attending church — was associated with a 7% lower risk.

This study can’t prove that these activities lower the risk for dementia, only that there may be a connection, the team noted.

“This meta-analysis suggests that being active has benefits, and there are plenty of activities that are easy to incorporate into daily life that may be beneficial to the brain,” Lu said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology. “Our research found that leisure activities may reduce the risk of dementia. Future studies should include larger sample sizes and longer follow-up time to reveal more links between leisure activities and dementia.”

The report was published online in the journal Neurology.

Source: HealthDay





Vegan? Weightlifting May Protect Your Bones

While a plant-based diet may be associated with lower bone mineral density and increased fracture risk, there might be a way to counteract that: pumping iron.

New Austrian research shows that vegans who lift weights or do strength training have stronger bones than vegans who only do other forms of exercise such as biking or swimming.

“Veganism is a global trend with strongly increasing numbers of people worldwide adhering to a purely plant-based diet,” said Dr. Christian Muschitz, of St. Vincent Hospital Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna. “Our study showed resistance training offsets diminished bone structure in vegan people when compared to omnivores.”

Generally, people who follow vegan diets eat only plant-based foods and avoid all meat, dairy and eggs.

To study the issue, researchers compared the data from 43 men and women who had been on a plant-based diet for at least five years with the data of 45 omnivores, people who ate meat and plant-based foods for at least five years.

The research team found that vegan participants who used weight machines, free weights or did body weight resistance exercises at least once a week had stronger bones than vegans who did no resistance training. Vegans and omnivores who did resistance training had similar bone structure.

The findings were published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“People who adhere to a vegan lifestyle should perform resistance training on a regular basis to preserve bone strength,” Muschitz said in a journal news release.

About 6% of people in the United States now follow a vegan diet, according to the study.

Source: HealthDay