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Exercise may cut bad effects of breast cancer drugs

New York: A combination of weight training and 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity — such as brisk walking or jogging — every week may help mitigate the side-effects of hormone-therapy drugs that significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in post-menopausal survivors, shows a recent study.

Because most breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive — that is, they use estrogen or progesterone to grow and spread — survivors often rely on hormone therapy, such as Aromatase Inhibitors (AIs), to keep the disease from returning.

However, this AIs treatment can be a double-edged sword because they often lead to bone loss or severe joint pain, especially if the survivors are obese or overweight.

“These changes put women at risk for frailty fractures and osteoporosis, not to mention further risk for comorbid chronic disease and cancer reoccurrence,” said Gwendolyn Thomas, assistant professor at Syracuse University in New York, US.

Hence, nearly 40 per cent of survivors stop taking AIs long before their customary five-year treatment period expires and increase the chances of their breast cancer re-occurring, Gwendolyn said.

Interventions that address obesity in women taking AIs can help them continue this necessary treatment, the researchers continued.

For the study, participants did two sessions of weight training and 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or jogging, every week for a year.

“We noticed a drop in per cent body fat and body mass index, as well as a significant increase in their lean body mass. These changes have clinical benefits, but also suggest that exercise should be prescribed in conjunction with AIs, as part of a regular treatment regimen,” Thomas said.

The study was published in the Obesity Journal.