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Dragons of hope: Boat racing improves lives of breast cancer survivors
Date:2/1/2008

This release is also available in French.

The best long-term therapy for breast cancer survivors might have nothing to do with doctors or self-help books, a health researcher at McGill University says. Her prescription? Dragon boat racing.

Breast cancer survivors who participated in dragon boat racing reported significantly improved physical and mental health and coped better with post-recovery trauma, according to a study conducted by Dr. Catherine Sabiston of McGills Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. The results of her research -- conducted in Vancouver while she was a PhD student at the University of British Columbia (UBC) -- were published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology at the end of 2007.

For these women, the diagnosis and treatment of cancer were devastating, Dr. Sabiston said. There was a huge amount of stress, which continued with the treatment and the worry of recurrence. They live every day with the worry Could this be the day my cancer comes back?

With the encouragement of Dr. Sabistons UBC colleague Dr. Don McKenzie, a number of dragon boat teams made up of breast cancer patients of varying ages and backgrounds were formed in Vancouver in the late 1990s. They continue to compete and participated in Montreals dragon boat event last summer.

Dragon boat racing is an ancient Chinese sport dating back to the 4th century BCE. The boats are long, narrow, canoe-like craft, crewed by teams of anywhere from 10 to 20 paddlers, plus a drummer at the bow and a tiller (or steerer) at the stern. Once restricted to China and to Chinese expatriate communities, over the last quarter-century the sport has become increasingly popular worldwide, particularly on Canadas west coast.

Up until about ten years ago, it was commonly believed that if you had breast cancer, you shouldnt be physical
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Contact: Mark Shainblum
mark.shainblum@mcgill.ca
514-398-2189
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

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