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Breast Cancer Awareness 2015

Dalton Daily CItizen, Dalton Magazine

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25 Breast Cancer Awareness 2015 By Rachel Graf CTW Features For many breast cancer patients, the road to recovery is far from over even after successful treatments. These treatments often have unpleasant side effects including muscle and joint pain and fatigue that hinder survivors' physical ability to complete everyday tasks, according to a May 2015 study titled, "Weight Lifting and Physical Function Among Survivors of Breast Cancer: A Post Hoc Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial." The study's researchers looked into this decline in physical function, and concluded that weight lifting can help alleviate the negative side effects of treatment. Focusing specifically on women at risk for or with lymphedema, which is post- surgery swelling of a particular body part, the researchers studied the effects of gradual weight lifting on these women. Nearly 300 women participated in the study. Some women did not exercise for a year whereas the other women completed a year of weight lifting exercises, 13 weeks of which included a supervised training program. The researchers encouraged women to lift weights for their upper body as well as lower body, says Justin Brown, co-author of the study. He says that lower body strength is important for getting out of chairs and going up and down stairs, and upper body strength is important for carrying groceries and lifting heavier items off the floor. Breast cancer survivors should not overexert themselves when exercising, however, and should start with lighter weights. "The mantra that our group follows is start low and progress slow," Brown says. "And the idea is that if you give your body time to acclimate to the exercise and don't do things too aggressively, you minimize risk of becoming injured and maximize health benefits." Indeed, about twice as many women who didn't exercise lost some physical function (16.3 percent) compared to those who did exercise (8.1 percent). To determine which women lost physical function, the researchers asked them all to fill out a questionnaire about the level of difficulty they had in completing 10 tasks thought to be critical in being active in a community, such as walking a quarter of a mile. Because there isn't a surefire way of predicting which breast cancer patients will experience accelerated losses of physical function, Brown recommends that all patients partake in a weight lifting program. "We don't have understanding as to who are the people who are most susceptible to lose their function," Brown says. "The argument I would make is that everyone would likely benefit from doing exercise and doing weight lifting." Although this study focused specifically on weight lifting exercises, the researchers are trying to pursue a future study about how aerobic exercise would compare to weight lifting exercise for physical function in breast cancer patients, as a lot of people are more inclined to do aerobic activities. They hope to answer the question of whether exercise in general or a specific type of activity will result in the most benefits. © CTW Features

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