Last week, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported that new research shows exercise during the teen years can help protect girls from breast cancer when they're grown. Researchers tracked nearly 65,000 nurses, aged 24 to 42. The participants answered detailed questionnaires about their physical activity from age 12 onwards. The study found that women who were physically active as teens and young adults were 23% less likely to develop premenopausal breast cancer than women who grew up sedentary.
What does this have to do with those of us who have already had breast cancer? We already know that we need to exercise: for our cardiovascular health, maintaining bone health, keeping our weight down to lower our risk of lymphedema, diabetes and recurrence of breast cancer. We know it's important for us, and we can choose to heed or ignore this advice. So what about the news for teens? We all need to do our best to encourage the girls in our lives to get and stay active. Take just a little time with the girls you care about to ask them about what they're doing to exercise. If they play sports, ask how it's going or go to a match. If they don't play sports, ask them to go for a walk or bike ride with you (good for them and for you). At Life-Cise and Stay Fit Stay Strong, we are all making an effort to reach out to the girls we know to encourage them to stay fit. We know it can be difficult with school work, exams, college applications, music lessons, and all the other things that take up their time. But we hope that by encouraging fitness, maybe a few less women will suffer through breast cancer in the coming generations.