Exercise and Breast Cancer

The evening news last night was full of an important new study on alcohol and breast cancer.  It’s an important study because it incorporated data from 12 million people — yes, 12 million people — in 120 studies.  In short, this wasn’t one of those phony little social science type studies based upon 25 or 30 college students.

And while the tv newscasters spun the study to say as little as one glass of wine, beer or spirits a day can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 5%, they barely mentioned the other major takeaway in the study:  Vigorous exercise reduces the risk of breast cancer — by as much as 10%.

In short, exercise cancels the increased risk of breast cancer that comes from drinking wine.

But not just any exercise, the study says.  Vigorous exercise.  Ideally as much as 10 to 19 hours a week, which cuts the risk by 30%.

Ten to 19 hours a week!! OMG!!  How are we ever expected to do this?  I  can here you now.  After all, we all live very, very full lives.

Well, 10 to 19 is ideal.  But you don’t have to do the ideal to get meaningful benefits from exercise.  Some exercise is better than no exercise.  And you can exercise and pray at the same time.

Peggy Bowes, an Air Force Academy grad and former instructor pilot, wrote a book on this.  The Rosary Workout details how to begin with baby steps and develop a significant exercise routine all while praying the Rosary.  I recommend it highly.  (She has a description here.)

And in 2005, Chris Matthews on CNBC told how “Patti Lechner, like many of today’s busy moms, starts her day at 5 a.m. with some exercise. But in her case, things are a bit different: In her right hand, a rosary ring is also getting a steady workout. Patti is a devout Catholic and a member of Opus Dei. And while she’s exercising her body, she says she’s also cleansing her soul.

“It is a morning ritual she won’t live without. As a supernumerary within Opus Dei and a mother of six kids, she prays every chance she gets.”

So no more excuses.  Take a hint from Patti Lechner and Peggy Bowes and get that exercise — and pray while you are doing so.

And yes, watch that alcohol intake.  A glass a day for women, two for men is considered ideal.

About Joel Whitaker

Joel Whitaker is a long-time professional journalist (Tampa Bay Times, Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Bulletin, Institutional Investor, executive newsletters) and Catholic convert. He is the RCIA coordinator for his parish.
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