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Posted by on Dec 20, 2020 in Breast cancer | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study observed the effect of different physical activities on measures like pain and cardiorespiratory fitness in patients receiving hormone therapy for breast cancer (BC).

The study showed that aerobic and resistance training might positively impact cardiorespiratory fitness and pain in these patients. 

Some background

In most cases, the treatment of BC has a very heavy impact on the patients and their quality of life (QOL). Treatments like radiation, cancer removal surgery, and chemotherapy can drastically reduce physical ability, among other effects. Also, hormone therapy (HT) has been shown to have an additional impact on physical abilities. HT after BC has the goal to reduce the risk of a return of cancer by inhibiting female hormones like estrogen. It includes drugs like tamoxifen (Nolvadex) that blocks estrogen function and aromatase inhibitors that lower estrogen levels. These can lower muscle strength and raise body fat percentage.

Indicators of reduced physical abilities are pain and decreased performance of lungs, heart, and oxygen supply (cardiorespiratory fitness). Also, HT can reduce the amount of minerals in the bone (bone mineral density) and grip strength. 

Physical activity is known to have a positive impact on the physical abilities of BC survivors. However, the effect of different types of physical activity in BC survivors receiving HT is unknown. 

Methods & findings

This study included data from 11 studies and a total of 368 women with BC. All patients received tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors as HT. 241 patients were assigned to a physical activity and 127 to a control group. The physical activity included either aerobic and resistance training or walking activity. The control group was asked to either maintain their usual activity, do light stretching activity, or do no activity. The authors evaluated changes in cardiorespiratory fitness, pain, bone mineral density, grip strength, and body fat percentage. The average study length was 28 weeks.

The patients in the physical activity group exercised four times per week on average (aerobic) and three times per week on average (resistance). The average length of each session was 47 minutes. Overall, aerobic training was executed at 50-80% of the maximum heart rate. The resistance exercises gradually increased. 

There was a significant positive effect on cardiorespiratory fitness in the group executing aerobic and resistance training. In the same group, pain showed to decrease significantly. There was a slight improvement in grip strength and body fat percentage in the physical activity group.

The bottom line

The authors concluded that aerobic fitness plus resistance training positively affected cardiorespiratory fitness and reduced pain in women receiving hormone therapy after surviving BC. 

The fine print

The experience of physical fitness is very subjective. The chosen indicators might not represent the real-life experience of each patient. The type of collected data varied from study to study, making the results more diverse.

What’s next?

Ask your doctor about the benefits of aerobic and resistance activity for your individual treatment.

Published By :


Date :

Nov 01, 2020

Original Title :

Effects of exercise on physical outcomes of breast cancer survivors receiving hormone therapy – A systematic review and meta-analysis.

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