Physical Activity May Boost Survival After Breast Cancer

Moderate-intensity physical activity following breast cancer diagnosis may improve prognosis

THURSDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- While physical activity may decrease mortality, inactivity may increase mortality following breast cancer diagnosis, according to a report in the Aug. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Melinda L. Irwin, Ph.D., of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues prospectively examined the association between pre- and post-diagnosis physical activity level with mortality among 933 women participating in the Health, Eating, Activity and Lifestyle Study, who were subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer.

The investigators found that compared with inactive women, women who achieved the weekly exercise equivalent of about two to three hours of brisk walking in the year before and the two years after a breast cancer diagnosis decreased total deaths by 31 percent and 67 percent, respectively. The researchers also report that women who increased their physical activity after a breast cancer diagnosis lowered their risk of death by 45 percent when compared with women who were inactive both before and after their diagnosis, and women who cut back on physical activity after diagnosis had a fourfold increase in death risk.

"In conclusion, our results suggest that participating in any moderate-intensity recreational physical activity, such as brisk walking, after a diagnosis of breast cancer is associated with a lower risk of death," the authors write. "Encouraging women to maintain or increase their physical activity after a diagnosis of breast cancer may be beneficial to their overall health."

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