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Exercise can cut cardiovascular risk for breast cancer survivors

By Tauren Dyson
Breast cancer patients who worked out in a 16-week exercise program greatly cut their risk of cardiovascular disease. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Breast cancer patients who worked out in a 16-week exercise program greatly cut their risk of cardiovascular disease. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

March 29 (UPI) -- More exercise is a good idea for most people, but it's especially important for breast cancer survivors, who have an increased risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack, a new study says.

In fact, breast cancer patients who worked out in a 16-week exercise program greatly cut their risk of cardiovascular disease, according to research published in the March issue of Oncology.

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The study found that patients who participated in a 16-week exercise program had a significantly reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease over their sedentary counterparts.

"Breast cancer patients are exposed to a higher risk of cardiovascular complications during and after cancer treatment from chemotherapy and radiation therapy," said Kyuwan Lee, study author, in a news release. "I am hoping to reduce the risk of heart disease for breast cancer patients by testing optimal exercise programs during and after their cancer treatment."

The study included 100 sedentary women with obesity who survived breast cancer between stages 1 and 3. Their workouts consisted of 16 weeks of one-on-one exercise sessions: 80 minutes aerobic and resistance exercise for two days a week, and 50 minutes of aerobic exercise for one day a week.

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"I had a hard time watching my father undergo his cancer treatment," Lee explained. "But he overcame the side effects with exercise. That inspired me to study how exercise can impact other patients."

The workout follows the exercise guidelines for cancer survivors set forth by the American Cancer Society.

Moving forward, Lee wants to continue investigating this topic to identify the optimal level of exercise to lower cardiovascular disease risk in cancer patient.

"The main goal of this study was to use secondary analysis to test if exercise can reduce the risk for heart disease in this population," Lee said. "We hope that this study shows the importance of exercise in reducing the risk of heart disease to emphasize the need to integrate exercise into clinical practice for cancer patients."

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