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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 23:34 GMT 00:34 UK
Housework 'reduces cancer risk'
washing up
Any physical activity is beneficial
Doing housework can reduce a woman's chance of getting cancer, research suggests.

Researchers found the risk of endometrial cancer was cut by as much as 30% by physical activity such as household chores and walking.

Another study showed the chances of surviving breast cancer were also improved by taking exercise.

All the findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual meeting in Orlando.

There was greater protection for women who did more than four hours of chores a day than for those who did less than two hours.

Women who walked for 60 minutes a day were also better protected than those who walked less than 30 minutes a day.

The risk of cancer can be reduced by maintaining an active lifestyle
Dr Charles Matthews
The researchers at Vanderbilt University in the US and the Shanghai Cancer Institute in China looked at 832 women with endometrial cancer and a control population who did not have the disease.

Dr Charles Matthews, at the university, said: "We were particularly pleased to see the beneficial effect on endometrial cancer risk of more accessible and lower intensity forms of activity like walking for transportation and doing household chores, as well as intentional exercise.

Results 'encouraging'

"Our results support the idea that the risk of cancer can be reduced by maintaining an active lifestyle."

A separate study by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University, also presented to the Orlando meeting, found the risk of death for women who had breast cancer was up to 54% less for women who took exercise.

The optimum amount of exercise for reducing risk was between nine and 14.9 met-hours per week.

A met hour is the energy expenditure and caloric requirement at rest. One hour of walking is equivalent to three met-hours.

Clare Stevinson, a Cancer Research UK researcher at the department of exercise and health sciences at the University of Bristol, said the findings of the endometrial cancer research were "encouraging".

She said: "Some levels of housework are hard enough to have a physiological effect. It doesn't have to be a huge amount of high intensity stuff. But the more you do, the better."

While the results of the breast cancer study backed the idea that exercise can improve survival rates or reduce tumour size, more research was needed in this area, she said.

Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "While some studies suggest exercise might improve quality of life after breast cancer diagnosis, very little is still known about the influence of this and other lifestyle factors.

"Breakthrough generally recommends that all women exercise regularly in order to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of other diseases and while we welcome these results, more studies are needed before firm conclusions can be made."

Cancer 'delayed by good living'
23 Oct 03  |  Health
Sedentary women risking health
25 Feb 03  |  Health
Sporadic exercise 'can harm'
25 Mar 04  |  Northern Ireland

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