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Exercise May Reduce Breast Cancer Drugs Side Effects

Update Date: Jan 20, 2017 07:20 AM EST

A combination of weight training and 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise including jogging or brisk walking every week may help reduce the side effects of breast cancer drugs, aromatase inhibitors (AI), that reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence, a new study found.

Breast cancer survivors benefit from these hormone-therapy drugs because they have a lower risk of having the cancer cells recur again. Since breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive, wherein they use estrogen or progesterone to grow and spread, breast cancer survivors need to rely on hormone therapy to keep the disease from returning.

AIs or hormone-therapy drugs may have promising benefits but in turn, may cause several side effects such as severe joint pain like arthralgia and bone loss. The side effects become worse if the patient is overweight or obese.

About 40 percent of breast cancer survival, in fact, stop taking their medicines long before their five-year treatment period, India Today reports.

Published in the journal Obesity Journal, the researchers set out to identify the effects of exercise and physical activity on postmenopausal breast cancer survivors taking AIs.

"When women quit taking AIs, they increase the chances of their breast cancer reoccurring," Gwendolyn Thomas, co-author of the study, said as reported by News Medical Life Sciences.

"If breast cancer survivors are obese or overweight, they are likely to experience arthralgia. Interventions that address obesity in women taking AIs can help them continue this necessary treatment," she added.

Effects Of Aerobic And Resistance Exercise

Funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, the team recruited participants who did two sessions of weight training and 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, like brisk walking and jogging, every week for over a year. The participants' body mass index, body composition, bone marrow density and lean body mass were all monitored.

"We noticed a drop in percent body fat and body mass index, as well as a significant increase in their lean body mass. These changes have clinical benefits, but also suggest that exercise should be prescribed in conjunction with AIs, as part of a regular treatment regimen," Thomas added.

The study could pave the way for health practitioners to prescribe AIs in conjunction with exercise for optimal health and wellness.

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