Women with breast cancer who engage in physical activity, even if at moderate level, have a lower risk of death, cancer-specific or not; according to new research presented yesterday at the 2014 World Cancer Congress in Melbourne, Australia.

There exists a growing interest in non-pharmacological treatments for cancer and other non-communicable diseases. Exercise has been broadly known as an effective and safe therapy for breast cancer patients in reducing fatigue, depression and improving overall quality of life, but this new metaanalysis of 15 clinical studies, involving 1,447 women with breast cancer (average age of 51), found exercise also had a positive effect on tumour growth.

Lead author of the research, Jose F. Meneses Echávez., Master of Public Health at University of Santo Tomás, Columbia, commented: 'Breast cancer patients should be strongly advised about the vast benefits of physical activity and encouraged to use this 'free treatment' to adopt healthy behaviors to reduce their risk of disease progression, in conjunction with any concurrent pharmacological treatment plan they have. Women must complete an exercise volume of nearly 150 minutes per week, including walking and other aerobic activities. It's also important to encourage strengthening exercises, when advised by their physician."