Exercise as a Recurrence Risk Reduction

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

FEBRUARY 24, 2017

This is an important story from NHS News about a recent Canadian study that suggests that regular moderate exercise can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Without understanding the science, it seems likely that these same results apply to some other cancers. Without a doubt, the exercise cannot possibly do us any harm.

When we finish active cancer treatment, all of us wonder what else we can do to increase the chances of staying healthy. There are a few proven suggestions like stopping smoking, only moderate alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight. Then there are all the crazy suggestions like taking many expensive supplements or eating only cauliflower or eliminating stress and anger from our lives.

Regular moderate exercise is something we can control and something that we can all, with not too much effort, add to our lives. Remember that the daily half hour walk does not even have to be done all at once. You know the standard suggestions of parking further from your destination and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Add walking the dog or going a few times around the block, and you're there.

So lace up those sneakers or at least get off the couch and start moving.

Exercise 'most proven method' to prevent return of breast cancer
Exercise may reduce inflammation of breast tissue

"A half hour stroll a day can help women who've survived breast cancer prevent the killer disease returning," The Sun reports.

A review of recent evidence, carried out by Canadian researchers, was prompted by the fact that many women who undergo treatment for breast cancer are eager to make lifestyle changes that may help reduce the risk of the cancer returning. But there is a great deal of often conflicting advice, so it is hard to make an informed decision.

The researchers' review of evidence found that physical activity had the strongest reported effect on reducing the risk of breast cancer recurring and dying from breast cancer.

Following the recommended 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week guidance, as well as two to three weekly sessions of strength training, can help reduce the risk of breast cancer returning and death from the disease.

The effects of treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy can take a toll on motivation to exercise. But clinical guidelines recommend a gradual return to regular exercise.

The study was carried out by researchers from the Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Odette Cancer Centre Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada.

The researchers did not report any funding for the study and declared no competing interests.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
View All Articles