Exercise May Affect Obese Breast Cancer Patient Outcome

Improved survival rates for those who are obese or overweight at diagnosis

MONDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients who are overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis but had higher levels of moderate or vigorous physical activity in the year before diagnosis have better survival rates than their less active counterparts, according to a study published online Sept. 11 in Cancer.

Page E. Abrahamson, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues conducted a study among 1,264 women aged 20 to 54 who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. The women gave information about their levels of moderate and vigorous activity at age 13 and 20 years and in the year prior to diagnosis.

For those in the highest quartile for activity during the year preceding diagnosis, there was a modest drop in the hazards ratio compared to those in the lowest quartile. For overweight and obese women the HR was even lower, but for underweight or ideal weight women exercise levels did not have an impact on survival. Exercise levels earlier in life did not make a difference to survival rates.

"If further research confirms that physical activity reduces mortality among women with breast cancer, then programs and policies to promote such activity for this purpose may be adopted. Research has demonstrated that programs and policies successfully may increase physical activity in selected communities, including cancer survivors," the authors conclude.

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