Exercise helps breast cancer survivors maintain bone density

Dec. 9, 2013 at 6:33 PM
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PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- One year of exercise can ensure steady maintenance of bone density to help prevent fractures in older breast cancer survivors, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Jessica Dobek and Kerri Winters-Stone, both of the Oregon Health and Science University, found the bone benefit after one year of an ongoing exercise program of resistance and impact training could help prevent bone fractures in the long run.

Exercise is one way in which to combat the side effects and long-term effects of cancer treatment. In previous research, Dobek and Winters-Stone found a one-year exercise regimen of resistance and impact training helped build muscle strength and stopped bone loss among a group of breast cancer survivors.

They wanted to determine if these benefits continued or were reversed after completing the intervention. Follow-up assessments were done a year later on 44 women who were part of the original study.

The study, published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, found spine bone mineral density could be preserved in older breast cancer survivors even after formal exercise training stopped. Some women continued to engage in exercise, albeit at a lower level, in the year after formal training stopped while others stopped exercising altogether. The sustained prevention of bone loss through moderate levels of exercise might translate to fewer fractures in later life.

The findings also showed muscle strength declined more quickly than bone density and might require continued participation in a supervised exercise program where the degree of effort can be sustained at a higher level, the study said.

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