Health & Wellness

Breast Cancer Survivors Need to Exercise

Working out can help keep breast cancer from recurring

By Wendy Haaf

Breast cancer treatment has been linked with an increase in the likelihood of developing heart disease. However, according to study results published earlier this year in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, regular resistance and aerobic exercise mitigates a powerful risk factor for both heart disease and breast cancer recurrence.

In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), 100 women who had undergone breast cancer treatment in the previous six months were randomly assigned either to receive usual care or to participate in supervised exercise sessions three times a week for 16 weeks; the exercise session incorporated weight training and moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity. On enrolment, 46% of the participants were obese and 77% met the criteria for metabolic syndrome—a precursor to diabetes that’s linked with an increased risk for heart attack and stroke, as well as a three-fold boost in the likelihood of breast cancer recurring.

After four months, just 15% of the exercise group had metabolic syndrome, versus 80% of the non-exercisers, thanks to improvements in blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and waist circumference.

Photo: iStock/kali9.