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Study: Walking Hour A Day May Reduce Older Women's Chances of Getting Breast Cancer

PITTSBURGH (CBS) -- A large new study from the American Cancer Society finds walking an hour a day could significantly reduce an older woman's chances of getting breast cancer.

The risk is even lower for women who do more vigorous exercise.

Friends Mary Porter and Merleann Taylor go walking in Central Park every day. It could help lower their risk of breast cancer.

"It's such a healing, stress-reducing thing to do," said Porter. "It really helps me start my day."

A new study from the American Cancer Society finds postmenopausal women whose only exercise is walking an hour a day still reduce their chances of getting breast cancer 14 percent.

"They are walking at a really moderate pace, about three miles an hour," says Dr. Alpa Patel, of the American Cancer Society.

Women who engage in more vigorous exercise lower their risk even more - 25 percent.

"We know that physical activity is associated with sex hormones we know to be important in breast cancer," said Dr. Patel.

Current guidelines recommend adults do at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. But studies show less than half of U.S. women do even that much.

Merleann, 68, whose mother and sister both had breast cancer, says keeping fit is a big part of her life.

"I can't do what I used to be able to do, but I still can do almost everything," she said.

Researchers say it doesn't have to be a marathon. A leisurely walk every day can still make a big difference.

The study followed more than 73,000 women for 17 years.

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