Doing housework for at least six hours a day could reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by up to 13 percent, new findings suggest.
The latest findings, from the largest study of its kind, confirmed that an active lifestyle can help protect people from developing cancer.
Researchers found that women who spent six hours a day doing household chores, going for a quick walk or gardening were 13 percent less likely to develop breast cancer compared to their more inactive counterparts.
Results from the study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, involved 257,805 women, including over 8,000 breast cancer patients, from across Europe who are part of the massive European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) study funded by Cancer Research.
Researchers looked at the activity levels and diet of all participants and found that even moderately active women, defined as doing at least three hours of gardening a day, reduced their breast cancer risk by 10 percent and women who do two-and-a-half hours of housework or walking reduce their risk by around 6 percent.
Even after accounting for risk factors like body weight, whether participants had breastfed and alcohol intake, researchers found that the more exercise women did the lower their risk for breast cancer. However, they noted that moderate amounts of exercise still had a positive effect against the disease.
"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," Professor Tim Key, a Cancer Research UK epidemiologist based at the University of Oxford, said in a statement.
Past studies found that more than 3 percent of breast cancers, more than 5 percent of colon cancers and around 4 percent of womb cancers in the UK in 2010 were associated with people doing less than the recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week.
"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," Sara Hiom, director of information at Cancer Research UK, said in a statement.
"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," she added. "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."