Doctors prescribing exercise for cancer

Sept. 28, 2010 at 8:31 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Exercise, long recommended for cardiac patients, is being recommended for cancer patients and those with other diseases, too, U.S. researchers say.

New national cancer guidelines urge both cancer patients and cancer survivors to exercise during and after treatment for 150 minutes per week -- the same exercise advice given to the general public, the Chicago Tribune reports. Initial studies show consistent workouts can help with everything from autoimmune disorders, Parkinson's disease to alcoholism.

"There's still a prevailing attitude out there that patients shouldn't push themselves during treatment," Kathryn Schmitz, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and lead author of the new guidelines, told the Tribune.

Although exercise is a body stressor, but resting too much may also have adverse effects so our message is to avoid inactivity, Schmitz says.

Doctors had told breast cancer patients in the past not to lift more than 15 pounds for the rest of their lives and to limit exercise to not exacerbate lymphedema, a painful swelling of the arms. A study last year, however, found progressive weight lifting was safe and could prevent lymphedema flare-ups, Schmitz says.

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