Charity walks raise millions of dollars to fight breast cancer and other diseases, but in the United States and, increasingly, around the world, they also raise awareness about the importance of early disease detection and physical fitness.

The events are great opportunities for women to empower themselves and become physically active, said Sloane Burke, team leader for the Susan G. Komen National Race for the Cure, which celebrates its 25th anniversary on June 2 with a five-kilometer race in Washington. President and Mrs. Bush are the honorary chairpersons of the event.

Worldwide, breast cancer causes 502,000 deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women, says the Avon Foundation, and because there is no cure, education and early detection are the best defenses against it, says the American Cancer Society.

“When we’re walking 3,000 strong — many of us survivors, who need to get out and walk — and there’s pink everywhere and news cameras everywhere, if our message gets one person to have a mammogram for the first time, then we’re that much closer to increasing survival,” said Judith Cherry, a team leader for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

A mammogram is an X-ray photograph that helps doctors diagnose breast cancer. Women in the United States have worn pink for years to indicate that they have survived breast cancer or that they support breast cancer causes.

Exercise significantly improves the quality of life for breast cancer survivors, and physical activity may reduce the risk of developing the disease, several studies indicate.

Burke expects 50,000 participants in the all-day Komen race, including 35 international teams hosted by embassies. A Muslim team sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations will take part, wearing pink hijabs.


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