Exercise may benefit older breast cancer survivors

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An Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute study is examining different forms of exercise for women older than 65 who have had breast cancer. Different exercises may benefit older breast cancer survivors.

The study, which is still looking to enroll participants, will evaluate the beneficial effects of aerobic exercise and resistance training for breast cancer survivors who are at least two years post-treatment with chemotherapy or radiation, explained Kerri Winters-Stone, Ph.D., the principal investigator, OHSU Cancer Institute member and associate professor, OHSU School of Nursing.

The women in the study class will be placed in three supervised groups: aerobic exercise; strengthening exercise and a control group that will do stretching exercises. The classes will be held at the OHSU School of Nursing, Marquam Hill Campus.

“Our aim is to improve physical functioning, and we may also change the women’s body composition, which can reduce their risk for other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension,” Winters-Stone said.

Besides the benefits of added activity, Winters-Stone said she has seen another benefit to women in similar studies.

“The serendipitous outcome is the social benefits the women will experience because of their shared experience ? having had breast cancer. This will be a welcoming and safe environment for women to exercise. They can shed the emotional weight of having had breast cancer because everybody in the room has gone through it. It will be a freeing environment, where it’s OK to be vulnerable as far as their exercise challenges. It can be a real support group for women,” she said.

After recruiting the needed 141 women, the supervised study program will last one year and then women are expected to transition from the structured environment of supervised classes to a home-based version of their program to assess the sustainability of exercise in a more realistic setting.

The study is funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Source: Oregon Health & Science University, USA

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