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Yale Plans Closer Look at Exercise and Cancer

Studies will chart recovery of active women with breast or ovarian disease

MONDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- A Yale professor has received $7 million in federal grants for two studies into whether exercise affects ovarian and breast cancer recovery.

The U.S. National Cancer Institute funding will go to test theories that exercise along with traditional courses of treatment can improve survival rates as well as cancer patients' mental and physical health.

"Currently, after patients complete treatment for breast or ovarian cancer -- or any cancer, for that matter -- few if any rehabilitation or survivorship programs are available to help them get back to their activities of daily living," Melinda L. Irwin, an associate professor in the division of chronic disease epidemiology at Yale's School of Public Health, said in a university news release. "An exercise program may not only help alleviate side effects of treatment, but may also confer benefits to overall and cancer-related health." It's Irwin's studies that are being funded.

One study will see if participating in a program of moderate aerobic exercise after treatment for ovarian cancer makes a difference in a woman's body composition, quality of life and any hormone production that could be linked to ovarian cancer prognosis.

The other study will try to determine if exercise counters any of the negative side effects from the hormone therapies used to treat women recovering from breast cancer. Arthralgia, which causes severe joint pain similar to arthritis, and loss of bone density are among the side effects that lead some women to stop hormone therapy, which can dampen their recovery.

According to the cancer institute, more than 184,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, and about 41,000 died from the disease. About 21,650 new cases of ovarian cancer were diagnosed nationally in the same year, with more than 15,000 deaths.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancers that affect women.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Yale University, news release, March 23, 2009

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