According to the American Cancer Society, white women are more likely to develop breast cancer; however, African American women are more likely to die from the disease. A recent study shows that a lifetime of vigorous exercise can help protect black women against aggressive breast cancer.

Funded by Georgetown University and presented at the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the nearly 20- year study featured data from 44,704 women. The research showed that African American women who averaged 3 or more hours per week of brisk exercise throughout their lives had a 47% lower chance of developing estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer compared with those exercising an average of 1 hour per week. ER-negative breast cancer is considered a more aggressive form of the disease. This type of cancer is also more prevalent among African American women than it is among white women.

“These findings are very encouraging,” says Lucile Adams-Campbell, PhD, professor of oncology and associate director for minority health and health disparities research at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Knowing that exercise may protect against breast cancers that disproportionately strike black women is of great public health importance.”

This research is part of the Black Women’s Health Study.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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