appears to improve breast cancer survivors' outlook on
life, suggests one of the first studies to scientifically
measure the effects of such exercise. About 80% of
women who took up twice-a-week weight training saw
improved scores on a quality-of-life survey,
researchers said in a study to be published in an upcoming
issue of the journal Cancer. In contrast, 51%
of participants in a control group did not.
The physical and
psychological benefits of exercise are well-documented.
But this study is the first to apply scientific methodology
to looking at how weight training helps women who have
had breast cancer.
"This may seem
like common sense to most folks, but there's really
been no literature or science where researchers tried to
quantify and verify the effect," said Len Lichtenfeld,
deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer
recruited 86 women from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area
in late 2001 and early 2002. Each of the women had
completed successful treatment of breast cancer within
the previous three years. Half the women were assigned
to an exercise group. For three months they met twice a week
with personal fitness trainers to develop a weight-lifting
regimen. They were then encouraged to follow it for
another three months. The second group had no
women in both groups a series of questions about
physical well-being, marital happiness, sexual activity, and
other aspects of life. Women in the exercise group had
a modest improvement over members of the nonexercising
group, Lichtenfeld noted. However, the women in the
exercise group said they felt they had more strength, speed,
and self-confidence as a result of the workouts. It appears
the weight lifting helped them regain a feeling of
control of their bodies, researchers said.
The more the
women improved on bench press, the better they said they
felt overall. That may be because breast cancer treatment
can reduce the ability to lift and carry things, said
Kathryn Schmitz, a University of Pennsylvania
researcher who coauthored the study.
The study also
tried to observe weight training's effect on depression.
The researchers didn't measure any significant effect, but
they said that might be because such a small number of
women were deemed to suffer from depression at the
outset of the study. (AP)
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