It may sound counter intuitive but housework could be good for your health.
Researchers found women who spent six hours a day doing household chores, going for a brisk walk or gardening were 13 per cent less likely to develop breast cancer than their sedentary peers.
Even those who managed just two-and-a-half hours of activity reduced their cancer risk by eight per cent.
Moderate physical activity is key to reducing the risk of breast cancer, according to a new study
Researchers, funded by Cancer Research, looked at the activity levels and diet of more than 8,000 people with breast cancer - the largest study of its kind.
Professor Tim Key, a Cancer Research UK epidemiologist based at the University of Oxford, said: 'This large study further highlights the benefits of being active – even moderate amounts. There is also a lot of evidence that exercise reduces the risk of bowel cancer. More research is needed on other types of cancer, and to investigate the mechanisms which could explain the links.'
The government recommends we do 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity – such as brisk walking. But only 39 per cent of men and 29 per cent of women are managing this.
Previous research has estimated that more than three per cent of breast cancers, more than five per cent of colon cancers and around four per cent of womb cancers in the UK in 2010 were linked to people doing fewer than 150 minutes of at least moderate intensity physical activity per week.
Sara Hiom, director of information at Cancer Research UK, said: 'While maintaining a healthy bodyweight and cutting back on alcohol remain two of the best ways of reducing our risk of breast cancer, being active can clearly play a role too – but doesn’t have to cost you money or too much time.
'You don’t need to train like an Olympic athlete but the excitement of watching team GB win so many golds might have inspired some of us to spend less time on the sofa. And, as this research confirms, exercise can include anything that leaves you slightly out of breath like doing the gardening, walking the dog or housework.
'Small changes in your daily routine can make all the difference, like taking the stairs instead of the lift or walking some of the way to work, school or the shops and add up over the course of a week.
'Keeping active could help prevent more than 3,000 cases of cancer in the UK every year. And it can have a positive effect on your health.'
The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, used data collected by the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer.
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