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Exercise Eases Chemotherapy Side Effects

It also boosts daily function, researchers say

FRIDAY, July 14, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Exercise may help cancer patients better cope with the side effects -- such as weight gain or loss, nausea and vomiting -- of radiation or chemotherapy treatment, a new study finds.

Specifically, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia concluded that exercise helps improve the physical function of cancer patients undergoing treatment and those who've recently been treated.

"Improvement in physical function, such as the ability to climb a flight of stairs or walk a certain distance, is an important outcome because it greatly impacts patients with jobs and children," researcher Vicki Conn, associate dean of research and a professor of nursing at MU's Sinclair School of Nursing, said in a prepared statement.

"Exercise can reduce recovery time and help patients feel better as they deal with the side effects of cancer treatment," she said. Her team published its findings in the July issue of Supportive Care in Cancer.

The study also found that exercise had a positive effect on cancer patients' body composition (percentage of body fat) and eased symptoms such as pain, nausea and vomiting. The researchers also identified modest improvements in quality of life, mood, and level of fatigue among the cancer patients after exercise.

"All patients should speak with their doctors before implementing any exercise regimen with cancer treatment. Many patients over the age of 50 have other chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, which must be taken into consideration," Conn said.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about cancer patients and exercise.

SOURCE: University of Missouri-Columbia, news release, July 7, 2006
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