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Exercise to Treat Side Effects

Posted 6/26/2014

Posted in

  This is an interesting twist to the frequent articles about the value of exercise. I have written a number of times, and included links to a number of studies, that suggest that regular mild to moderate exercise is beneficial to us in terms of weight maintenance, overall well being, and a possible reduction in recurrence risk. This new study, from the University of Madrid,  published in Clinical and Translational Oncology goes a step further by indicating that exercise may diminish side effects from cancer treatment.

  Since I am very much a Type A person, and since I am married to someone who is even more so and who is an exercise super advocate, I exercised regularly through both my chemotherapy experiences (1993 and 2005). The times that I really remember with both pride and chagrin involved hiking up mountains. Somehow being tired and bald and half way through chemo treatment didn't enable me to take a vacation that was filled with time in the hammock and a good book. I have a clear memory of composing a song, set the Tony Bennett's I Left my Heart in San Francisco, that went something like this:

"I left my hair on Cadillac Mountain. In the strong wind, it flew from me....."

Nuts, right?

  Anyway, here is the abstract and a few more quotes from this article. I am not able to supply you with a link to read it for free, so let me know if you are interested, and I will forward the whole article to you. If you want it, email me at

Running away from side effects: physical exercise as a complementary intervention for breast cancer patients
S. Casla • P. Hojman • I. Ma´rquez-Rodas •
S. Lo´pez-Tarruella • Y. Jerez • R. Barakat •
M. Martin

Abstract The number of breast cancer survivors increases
every year, thanks to the development of new treatments
and screening techniques. However, patients present
with numerous side effects that may affect their quality of
life. Exercise has been demonstrated to reduce some of
these side effects, but in spite of this, few breast cancer
patients know and follow the exercise recommendations
needed to remain healthy. In this review, we describe the
different breast cancer treatments and the related side
effects and implications of exercise in relation to these. We
propose that exercise could be an integrative complementary
intervention to improve physiological, physical and
psychological factors that affect survival and quality of life
of these patients. For that reason, the main objective of this
review is to provide a general overview of exercise benefits
in breast cancer patients and recommendations of how to
design exercise

A cancer diagnosis is an important teachable moment
where changes in life style and behaviour could be achieved, lowering treatment-related side effects and
improving survival. Exercise is a global intervention,
which improves physical, physiological and psychological
aspects of breast cancer patients, and an adequate promotion
by oncologist will have to be developed and supported
by training counseling by a specialist. As such, hospitals
should consider including supervised exercise programs, in
order to promote a healthy life style and prevent secondary
tumors or comorbidities in breast cancer survival, taking
advance of the teachable moment of the cancer diagnosis.
As an example, programs to rehabilitate cardiac damage
have been established as a treatment in hospitals, and
experts in cardiac physiology and exercise train patients in
order to rehabilitate cardiac damage and avoid inactivity.
Every year, the number of cancer survivor rises, and these
present with older age at diagnosis and possible comorbidities.
The same scenario could be applied to cancer
patients, taking into account the above mentioned. For this
reason, exercise intervention should be included as a
multifactorial complementary treatment. Appropriate
exercise could reduce side effects and further comorbidities
that breast cancer patient may present in a long term,
increasing the patient’s quality of life and survival. This is
of capital importance in a world of both growing cancer
care costs and global economical restrictions.


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