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Breast cancer: physical activity does not prevent recurrences, true or false?

December 6, 2018

Exercise is good for you, always. When it comes to breast cancer, many women believe that doing sport has no impact on recurrences, i.e. the possible return of breast cancer. True or false? Replies Dr. Andrea Sagona, breast surgeon at Humanitas.


False. Lifestyle and especially physical activity play a fundamental role in the prevention of recurrences – explains the expert -. In sedentary women, in fact, the risk of mortality after diagnosis of cancer increases by 25% compared to women who instead change their lifestyle after diagnosis and choose to have an active life and sports. In particular, it has been shown that two and a half hours of physical activity per week, even if not as demanding as a quick walk outdoors, would be enough to reduce the risk of recurrences. Unfortunately, at present, only 11% of patients healed thanks to therapies that are increasingly effective today, change their lifestyle and begin to practice physical activity on a regular basis. The same Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom) warns of the importance of investing more in the prevention of the reappearance of cancer, as well as in the primary care and prevention. In fact, the lack of information on how to prevent the return of the disease risks to cancel the positive results allowed by research in the therapeutic field. Among the bad habits to change, in addition to sedentariness, there is also cigarette smoking and diet. In fact, the risk of recurrence of breast cancer increases by 41% in smokers who do not abandon the habit after defeating the disease for the first time, while not changing the diet in favor of a healthy diet low in animal fat, can increase the risk of recurrence of cancer by 24%.

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