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Exercise has more benefits than helping to burn calories, says a new study. Reuters

Vigorous exercise can help post-menopausal women keep breast cancer at bay, suggest new findings.

Body fat plays a role with fat women 55% more likely to develop the disease than lean ones.

Despite fat, exercise was shown to lower risk for women, giving proof of how exercise does more than burn calories.

Based on a study of 126,000 women recorded by UK Biobank and conducted by Cancer Research UK, the findings allowed researchers to look into lifestyle factors in women who developed the disease.

The paper is to be presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference at Liverpool.

The study also showed that women with the most body fat were 55% more likely to develop the disease than the leanest. But being physically active still seemed to help lower breast cancer risk regardless of how fat or thin the women were.

Professor Tim Key, a Cancer Research UK scientist, said: "We've known for some time that exercise may help to reduce breast cancer risk after the menopause, but what's really interesting about this study is that this does not appear to be solely due to the most active women being slimmer, suggesting that there may be some more direct benefits of exercise for women of all sizes."

How exercise helps is still not understood but scientists suspect it could be linked to hormone levels in the body. It has been shown that yoga helps control depression in patients during treatment.