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Weightlifting slashes lymphedema risk after breast cancer treatment
Date:12/8/2010

impact of the weightlifting intervention was even greater a nearly 70 percent risk reduction, with 22 percent of control group participants developing lymphedema, compared to 7 percent in the treatment group.

More than 2.4 million breast cancer survivors live in the United States, a population that is expected to continue growing as physicians hone new, personalized treatments for the most aggressive forms of the disease. These women report that along with fear of recurrence and concerns about the cosmetic changes associated with their treatment, the threat of lymphedema looms large as they complete treatment and transition to their new life as cancer survivors. The condition is most common following surgery to remove multiple lymph nodes near the cancerous breast; previous studies have shown that as many as 47 percent of these women later develop lymphedema, which leads to costly and often futile treatment.

The study treatment group participants were provided with a one-year membership to a fitness center typically a YMCA near their homes throughout the Philadelphia area. For the first 13 weeks of the trial, they attended twice-weekly, 90-minute, small-group classes led by certified fitness professionals who taught them safe techniques for both upper- and lower-body weightlifting using both free weights and machines. Weight was increased slowly for each exercise if patients had no change in arm symptoms. For the remainder of the yearlong trial, the participants exercised on their own and were monitored on a monthly basis for changes in arm circumference. They also reported any symptom changes pain, tingling, numbness, etc. -- each week.

The results are a part of the two-pronged Physical Activity and Lymphedema (PAL) Trial, which sought to examine the role of weightlifting both for breast cancer survivors who already had the condition and those who were at risk. In August 2009, Schmitz's team published separate findings showing that am
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5659
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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