I've been meaning to write this post since back in September, when it was announced on the radio and in many newspapers that doing housework and gardening can help protect you from developing cancer. At the time I was undergoing radiotherapy and quite frankly felt outraged at this news!!! My initial reaction was "how bloody ridiculous!!!"
OK, at the time I didn't actually read any of the articles claiming this, I just heard the headline and a brief overview on the radio. Which I'm sure many others did too. I'm 38 years old, have 2 children under 10, at the time of my diagnosis was working part-time in an office, doing the school runs (walking & driving), doing housework etc; all the usual housewifely and motherly duties - I was leading an 'active' life, yet I got breast cancer.
I really feel that telling women they reduce their risk of getting breast cancer by doing housework and gardening is misleading and quite frankly, dangerous. Women are likely to think well I already do those things, therefore I need do nothing more to protect myself. Surely most women do housework and gardening?!! OK not so much the gardening, in this house anyway, but are we really becoming a nation of slackers just sitting around?! Not the women I know.
Plus, if we are saying women need to be cleaning more, for those who are already rushing around like headless chickens, working AND running a home whilst raising children, this message is only adding more STRESS to their lifestyle. Stress (although not proven) in my opinion definitely increases your chance of getting cancer. Stress reduces your immunity, thus letting those nasty little cancer cells thrive.
My oncologist says EXERCISE, exercise is the key. Regular exercise will reduce your risk of getting cancer (or in my case, of it recurring). I realise that what these articles are encouraging is building exercise into your daily routine but surely it needs to be more than hoovering & dusting, or a spot of pruning and deadheading!! Having now read one of the offending articles, they do say that exercise can be anything that leaves you slightly out of breath. Does housework and gardening really fall into this category? I guess that depends on how fit you are.
Personally I think the strong message to women should be EXERCISE for LIFE and DE-STRESS. Find an exercise you LOVE DOING and keep doing it, for your long term health and happiness. Whether it be running, jogging, walking (fast), zumba, weight training, swimming, cycling, yoga, pilates or belly dancing! whatever you do, it should be enjoyable though. I have always kept a clean home but I haven't always kept a regular exercise regime - if I had, would I have got breast cancer?
On another note, please support the Stand Up to Cancer campaign. Channel 4 and Cancer Research UK have joined forces to raise lots and lots of lovely money to help speed up the advances being made towards a cure for cancer. Tomorrow will be an entertaining yet emotional, no doubt, night of TV on Channel 4. Think of me and donate some cash! FIND OUT MORE HERE