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Cancer Survivors Can Still Be Fit, Study Asserts

Therapies do not appear to hamper cardiovascular health

THURSDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment for cancer does not hamper cardiovascular fitness, regardless of the type of cancer, treatment, age or body mass index, a new U.S. study says.

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., reached the conclusion after giving a three-minute step test to 49 diverse women who had recently survived cancer.

"What's really exciting to us was that we found that cardiovascular fitness was not affected by the expected culprits -- cancer treatment, type, duration or time since treatment," researcher Jennifer LeMoine, a fellow with training in exercise physiology at Georgetown University's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a news release from the university. "That isn't to say there aren't side effects of some treatments that may hinder physical activity, but when it comes to actual cardiovascular fitness as measured in our clinic, many of the standard treatments didn't have a role."

The results of the study were to be presented this week in Seattle at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine.

A third of the study participants said they lived sedentary lives, and the others described themselves as physically active. About 71 percent of the participants completed the step test, the researchers reported.

"We've modified an in-clinic cardiovascular assessment tool, the three-minute step test, with the goal of finding a test that can easily and quickly be performed in a physician's office," Dr. Priscilla A. Furth, a professor of oncology and medicine at Lombardi, said in the news release. "Having this kind of evaluation tool is critical for physicians, like me, who are interested in prescribing physical activity for this population."

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about staying active for life.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Georgetown University Medical Center, news release, May 28, 2009

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