Good news today for the thousands of folks across the country who plan to line up to walk in events supporting breast cancer awareness and prevention this month. Turns out, those walks may help to prevent breast cancer in the participants.

A new study from the American Cancer Society has found that exercise — in particular, walking — may help to prevent breast cancer. Researchers found that postmenopausal women who walked for at least seven hours a week had a lower risk of developing the disease.

The study, which was published recently in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, looked at data from 73,615 people who tracked their levels of physical activity. Women were asked if — and how often — they participated in activities such as walking, swimming, tennis, bicycling, jogging, and other aerobic activities. Researchers found that women who considered themselves "very active" had a 25 percent lower risk for breast cancer, and women who walked for at least seven hours a week had a 14 percent lower risk for breast cancer. The results were true even after researchers factored in variables like body mass index and use of postmenopausal hormones

“Our findings are particularly relevant, as people struggle with conflicting information about how much activity they need to stay healthy. Without any other recreational physical activities, walking on average of at least one hour per day was associated with a modestly lower risk of breast cancer. More strenuous and longer activities lowered the risk even more," said study author Alpa Patel in a statement

The big finding from this study is that women don't need to go to exercise extremes to significantly improve their health. Walking is as beneficial as other more strenuous forms of exercise such as running and swimming. And other studies have found that walking may also help lower the risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. And just one hour a day can make a big difference down the road.

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