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Exercise linked to better breast cancer outcomes

Several lifestyle changes can improve outcomes after a breast cancer diagnosis, but exercise is far and away the best habit to establish, researchers say.

Women with breast cancer, whether newly diagnosed or at any time in their survivorship phase, need to exercise regularly and avoid weight gain, said Dr. Ellen Warner from Odette Cancer Center at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, who coauthored the research review.

Warner and her colleague Julie Hamer joined forces to review nearly 70 articles that addressed lifestyle modifications that might have an impact on the risk of breast cancer recurrence and survival after breast cancer.

They found that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by 40 percent compared to women who didn't exercise. Unfortunately, less than 13 percent of women with breast cancer achieve the recommended 150 minutes per week of physical activity.

Exercise has the greatest benefit on lowering risk of recurrence and has many other secondary benefits like helping with weight management (which itself lowers the risk of recurrence) and fewer side effects from chemo, radiation, and hormone therapy, Warner told Reuters Health by email.

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