(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, PhD, 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).
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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% 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 vs. walked, P = 0.03).
For the runners, there was an average decrease in breast cancer mortality of 40.9% per MET-hours/day run (P = 0.0004). Compared with less than 1.07 MET-hours/day run, breast cancer mortality was 87.4% lower for 1.8 to 3.6 MET-hours/day (P = 0.008) and 95.4% lower for the ≥3.6 MET-hours/day (P = 0.0004). For the 714 walkers, there was a nonsignificant 4.6% decrease seen in breast cancer mortality per MET-hours/day walked (P = 0.71).
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“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 wrote.