Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2014 Contents B36
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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 19, 2014
Only one in three women living with breast cancer
is meeting current physical activity guidelines, sug-
gests a new study.
African American women, who tend to have higher
rates of death from breast cancer than white women,
were less likely to meet the guidelines.
"Physical activity is thought to lower the risk of
other diseases among breast cancer survivors, increase
their overall quality of life and reduce their mortality
from breast cancer and other diseases," Andrew
Olshan told Reuters Health in an e-mail.
He worked on the study at the Gillings School of
Global Public Health at the University of North Car-
olina at Chapel Hill.
About one in eight US women will develop breast
cancer at some point in her life.
Olshan and his colleagues used data from the Car-
olina Breast Cancer Study to see how physical activity
levels change after a breast cancer diagnosis.
The study included 1,735 women ages 20 to 74
who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer
between 2008 and 2011 in North Carolina. The women
were an average of 56 years old when they were diag-
nosed. The research team found that 65 per cent of
breast cancer survivors fell short of meeting the US
Department of Health and Human Services recom-
mendations of at least 150 minutes of moderate-
intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigor-
ous-intensity physical activity per week.
About 60 per cent of the study participants reported
exercising less after their diagnosis than before when
they were interviewed roughly six months post-diag-
The average participant reduced her activity by
the equivalent of about five hours of brisk walking
per week, according to findings published in the jour-
When compared with white women, African Amer-
ican women reported lower levels of physical activity
before their diagnoses and larger drops in activity
afterward. However, the difference in physical activity
declines after diagnosis went away when the
researchers took into account women s general health,
lifestyle and type of cancer treatment.
"More women with breast cancer should increase
their participation in physical activity after the diag-
nosis of breast cancer," Olshan said. "Additional
efforts to increase physical activity among African
American women are warranted given their lower
levels of physical activity and higher rates of disease
and poorer survival."
Olshan said women should talk with their doctor
before starting any new exercise programme. The
American Cancer Society also lists some precautions
for cancer survivors who want to exercise here:
Women can do either 150 minutes of moderate
aerobic exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous
aerobic exercise, or a combination of both, Olshan
"Exercise for at least ten minutes at a time and
try to exercise throughout the week rather than cram-
ming it all in on one day," he said.
Olshan added that strength training for all major
muscle groups also should be done at least two days
"Exercise can really help to reduce fatigue and
improves muscle strength, physical endurance and
self-esteem," said Maureen Pike. "It helps to deal
with some of the emotional issues that surround
cancer survivorship as well."
Pike is a Technical Advisor for Chronic Disease
Prevention Programs at the YMCA of the USA. She
wasn t involved in the study.
The YMCA teamed up with the LIVESTRONG
Foundation in 2007 to create a research-informed
exercise programme to help survivors reclaim their
health after going through the experience of cancer
and treatment, she noted. The programme is available
at 157 corporate YMCA associations, often free of
Study: Women with breast
cancer fall short on exercise
charge. Pike said the programme s goals include man-
aging side effects like pain and fatigue.
She said cancer patients should talk to their health-
care providers about exercise, and added that con-
necting with other people with similar conditions
might be better than trying to go about it alone.
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