The Cancer-Exercise Link

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Being physically active after a breast cancer diagnosis is associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence and breast cancer-specific mortality, according to a report from the American Cancer Society based on research from health experts.

What effect might exercise have on cancer?

Randomized controlled studies of exercise suggest answers.

“Exercise may result in beneficial changes in the circulating level of insulin, insulin-related pathways, inflammation and possibly immunity,” writes Dr. Anne McTiernan, Ph.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

But she adds: “the evidence is still preliminary.”

In part the caution comes because for now the association between exercise and reduced cancer recurrence is based on observational studies of women after their diagnosis, according to medical oncologist, Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.

“There may also be other factors such as getting a better diet, or taking medications,” Dr. Ligibel says.

Medical experts can’t say exercise is a miracle cure, according to Dr. Ligibel.

Have an exercise conversation with your healthcare provider, Dr. Ligibel says.

Ask how to start an exercise program.

Ask about convenient facilities and appropriate support groups in your community.

For more information on exercise and your breast cancer recovery, visit the following sites:

The American Council on Exercise:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: