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Running Beats Walking for Breast Cancer Survival

THURSDAY, Feb. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For breast cancer survivors, post-diagnosis running is associated with reduced mortality versus walking, according to a study published online Jan. 27 in the International Journal of Cancer.

Paul T. Williams, Ph.D., from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, examined whether post-diagnosis running and walking differ in their impact on breast cancer mortality. Mortality was compared with baseline exercise energy expenditure (metabolic equivalents [METs], with 1 MET-hour equivalent to 1 km run) in 272 runners and 714 walkers previously diagnosed with breast cancer (mean, 7.9 years before baseline).

During 9.1 years of surveillance, 46 women died from breast cancer (13 runners and 33 walkers). The researchers found that breast cancer mortality decreased an average of 23.9 percent MET-hours/day (P = 0.004) for all runners and walkers combined. The decrease was significantly greater for running than walking (risk per MET-hours/day run versus walked, P = 0.03). For the runners, there was an average decrease in breast cancer mortality of 40.9 percent per MET-hours/day run (P = 0.0004). Compared with less than 1.07 MET-hours/day run, breast cancer mortality was 87.4 percent lower for 1.8 to 3.6 MET-hours/day (P = 0.008) and 95.4 percent lower for the ≥3.6 MET-hours/day (P = 0.0004). For the 714 walkers, there was a nonsignificant 4.6 percent decrease seen in breast cancer mortality per MET-hours/day walked (P = 0.71).

"In conclusion, we have shown that breast cancer mortality in post-diagnosis runners may be lower than that of post-diagnosis walkers, and that exceeding the public health recommendation for physical activity was better than merely achieving it," Williams writes.

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