Bad news about HRT is a bit like buses. You wait for ages, and then they all turn up together. Hard on the heels of the influential Women’s Health Initiative trials, which failed to see any benefits that outweigh the risks, came the highly-publicised report from the Medical Research Council last week which revealed that HRT doubles the risk of breast cancer.

Now all this bad news is fine and large (and, as we at WDDTY have been harping on about the dangers of HRT since 1992, we did enjoy a few awful moments of ‘we told you so’), but we do need safer alternatives.

While we evaluate some of the herbal concoctions and other options being pedaled like mad right now, what else can be done?

Well, one great thing to do is to take a walk – but you’ll need to walk around a mile, and every day. If you’re prepared to put in that level of effort and commitment, the benefits can be life- and health-transforming, as researchers from the Centers for Disease Control have discovered.

They saw the effects that walking had on a group of 9,518 women, all aged over 65 years. The research team then compared the walkers’ progress against a group of mainly sedentary women, and found that they enjoyed a longer life, and were less prey to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The walking gave a longer and healthier life to the women – even if they were smokers, and even if they had never done any exercise before. In other words, it’s never too late to start.

(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003; 289: 2379-86).

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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