16/12/2011 08:22 GMT

Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk By 40%, Say Health Experts

Active women who exercise regularly not only dramatically cut their chances of developing breast cancer but slash their odds of dying by nearly 40% if they do fall prey to the disease, research has found.

The research by the University of North Carolina discovered that women who incorporate light exercise into their lifestyle, boost their chances of surviving breast cancer if they were ever diagnosed with it.

The study, originally conducted in the late Nineties, assessed the exercise regimes of 1,508 women who were suffering from breast cancer.

Over the following five years, researchers tracked these women to see how many had died from the disease and how many survived. They found that those who engaged in regular exercise from puberty into their adult years, were 36% less likely to die from cancer than those who didn't exercise.

Researchers behind the study, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, believe that exercise helps build up the immune system which subsequently helps fight off cancerous cells.

“This study provides support that regular physical activity, prior to breast cancer diagnosis, improves survival,” says a researcher from the study.

In the UK, around 48,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and on average 12,000 die from the disease. British women have a one in nine chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.

In addition to regular exercise, a healthy diet has also been proven to help reduce cancer risk. See our round-up of the best cancer-fighting foods below.

The Best Cancer-Fighting Foods