Exercise Programs Benefit Older Breast Cancer Survivors

Posted by Admin on February 25, 2014
Recent research indicates that older breast cancer survivors should following ongoing exercise programs involving impact and resistance training to build and maintain muscle strength and bone density. This is according to research reported in The Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

According to the American Cancer Society, there are over 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the US alone. The majority of these women are over the age of 50.  However, the study authors claim that it can be challenging for older breast cancer survivors to maintain a healthy body state after enduring a battle with cancer, due to a rigorous treatment regimen and reduced physical activity.

The researchers explain that cancer treatment is associated with a loss of bone density, a reduction in muscle mass and weight gain. This indicates that older breast cancer survivors face an elevated risk of developing diseases relating obesity, frailty and fractures, and breast cancer recurrence.

For the study, investigators conducted a study on 106 early stage postmenopausal breast cancer survivors over the age of 50. The women were randomly assigned to a supervised 1-year resistance and impact program, or a stretching placebo program.

The study results revealed that the women who carried out the impact and resistance program had improved muscle strength and a reduced loss o bone density, when compared with women in the placebo program.

The researchers wanted to see if these benefits could be achieved long-term. For a follow-up study, the investigators completed assessments 1 year later on 44 women who were participants in the original study.

A portion of the women in the follow-up study had continued with lower-level exercise, while others had ceased their exercise program since the previous study. All women continued to demonstrate progress in their spine bone mineral density, indicating that this can be persevered even after regular exercise has stopped.  However the muscle strength declined quicker than the bone density, suggesting that muscle strength must be maintained through exercise programs.
Lead study author, Jessica Dobek concludes, “Exercise programs aimed at improving musculoskeletal health should be considered in the long-term care plan for breast cancer survivors. Though further work is needed, our results may provide a beginning knowledge about the type, volume and length of exercise training needed to preserve bone health among long-term cancer survivors at risk of fracture."


Written by Elijah Lamond

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