Exercise Greatly Boosts Breast Cancer Survival

You may remember recent studies I've posted about the benefits of regular exercise reducing one's risks of breast cancer and prostate cancer. But, does exercise do any good if you're already fighting cancer? Obviously, a lot, according to a new study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Harvard Medical School researchers found patients who exercise moderately -- 3-5 hours a week -- reduce their odds of dying from breast cancer by about half as compared to sedentary women. In fact, any amount of weekly exercise increased a patient's odds of surviving breast cancer. This benefit also remained constant regardless of whether women were diagnosed early on or after their cancer had spread.

By the numbers:

  • Slightly more than 100 women out of some 950 who did the least amount of exercise died of breast cancer.
  • Only 20 out of 335 women who exercised 3-5 hours weekly were breast cancer victims.

Patients receiving the biggest boost from exercise were those most sensitive to estrogen, the most common form of breast cancer. (Previous research has shown exercise lowers estrogen levels, which can fuel the growth of breast cancer cells.)

This natural treatment is certainly far better than donating your body to science in the pursuit of a drug-based cure.

One reminder: As I've said many times before, it's important to view exercise like a drug, meaning it needs to be precisely prescribed to achieve the maximum benefit.

Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 293, No. 20, May 25, 2005: 2479-2486

San Francisco Chronicle May 25, 2005

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