Health: Today is the 33rd Annual Great American Smokeout; Exercise Can Cut a Woman’s Breast Cancer RiskNovember 20th, 2008
For many people, today could be the day the quit. Today marks the American Cancer Society’s 33rd Great American Smokeout, a day when smokers are encouraged to not smoke for at least one day in the hope that they can quit permanently. Many Americans are expected to observe the Smokeout by refusing to light up a cigarette. Smoking one pack a day, means you’re spending about $2,000 to $3,000 a year, according to one estimate. November is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the most devastating side-effect of smoking: lung cancer. Lung cancer killed 160,390 people last year, an average of 439 people a day, according to the Lung Cancer Alliance. It is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, killing more people annually than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers combined. So how do you fight the urge? Well for starters you can build a support system for yourself, health officials say. Or use a buddy system, so you have someone to call. Try to stay busy so you’re not thinking about your next drag.
Exercise can cut a woman’s breast cancer risk. Here’s yet another benefit of working out: for women, it reduces your breast cancer risk by 20 percent. Women who got regular exercise, according to a study of more than 32,000 postmenopausal women, cut their risk of breast cancer by 30 percent. “Possible mechanisms through which physical activity may protect against breast cancer that are independent of BMI [body mass index] include reduced exposure to growth factors, enhanced immune function, and decreased chronic inflammation, variables that are related both to greater physical activity and to lower breast cancer risk,” said the authors, who published their findings in the journal of Breast Cancer Research. However, there was a caveat. The benefits of exercise were whipped out of women who did not get enough sleep. In some cases, women’s breast cancer risk actually increased by 50 percent in women who got less than 7 hours of sleep a night, the authors said. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death and is the sixth most-common cause of death for women of all ages in the U.S. While African-American women do not get breast cancer at a greater rate than White women, when they do get it they die at higher rates than White women do, according to federal statistics.