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14.08.2013


Strength training helps women recovering from breast cancer stay attractive and healthy

Breast cancer survivors are often put on hormone therapy for years after they've had chemotherapy and surgery. While it can drastically reduce the chances of a new bout of cancer, hormone therapy leads to muscle and bone-mass loss and an increase of fat around the midriff, so women lose their waist. Researchers at the University of Medical Sciences in Poland have discovered that modest strength training can help prevent these side effects.
Breast cancer survivors are often put on hormone therapy for years after they've had chemotherapy and surgery. While it can drastically reduce the chances of a new bout of cancer, hormone therapy leads to muscle and bone-mass loss and an increase of fat around the midriff, so women lose their waist. Researchers at the University of Medical Sciences in Poland have discovered that modest strength training can help prevent these side effects.

Study
The Poles published the results of an experiment involving 41 breast cancer survivors in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. The average age of the women was 44, and all had finished chemotherapy, surgery and radiation treatment. All were on medicines; most of them took goserelin a drug that halts the production of messenger hormones by the pituitary and tamoxifen, an anti-oestrogen that prevents the female sex hormone estradiol from attaching to its receptor.

The experiment lasted 18 months. For the first six months the women did nothing. This enabled the researchers to determine the effect of hormone therapy on inactive women.

In months 7-12 the women did aerobic training. They exercised every day, after warming-up for several minutes doing 40 minutes of moderately intensive exercise. They walked briskly, cycled or ran on a treadmill in a gym, so that their heart beat rose to 65-75 percent of their maximal heart rate.

In months 13-18 the women continued to do their aerobic training, but then added strength training to their regime. They trained three times a week for 45 minutes. A workout consisted of 6-8 plank exercises, a couple of exercises for the upper body (3 sets of 15 reps) and three exercises for the legs (16 reps).

Results
The women's strength training regime was more like circuit training than regular strength training, but it was effective. The table below shows that aerobic training slowed down bone density loss [BMD] in the hips [TH] and in the whole body [TB], but bone decay was only halted by doing strength training.

The same was the case for halting lean body mass loss [LBM], which includes muscle. Lean body mass decreased dramatically in the period that the women were receiving hormone therapy but not training, decreased less in months 7-12 and actually increased in months 13-18.


Breast cancer survivors are often put on hormone therapy for years after they've had chemotherapy and surgery. While it can drastically reduce the chances of a new bout of cancer, hormone therapy leads to muscle and bone-mass loss and an increase of fat around the midriff, so women lose their waist. Researchers at the University of Medical Sciences in Poland have discovered that modest strength training can help prevent these side effects.


Breast cancer survivors are often put on hormone therapy for years after they've had chemotherapy and surgery. While it can drastically reduce the chances of a new bout of cancer, hormone therapy leads to muscle and bone-mass loss and an increase of fat around the midriff, so women lose their waist. Researchers at the University of Medical Sciences in Poland have discovered that modest strength training can help prevent these side effects.


Hormone therapy stimulates the growth of fat mass [FBM]. During the first six months of hormone therapy the women gained almost four kilograms of body fat. Their BMI increased in that period from 22.3 to 24.3. The aerobic training and strength training halted the increase in fat mass, and resulted in a kilogram loss of fat. After 18 months the women's average BMI was 23.5.


Breast cancer survivors are often put on hormone therapy for years after they've had chemotherapy and surgery. While it can drastically reduce the chances of a new bout of cancer, hormone therapy leads to muscle and bone-mass loss and an increase of fat around the midriff, so women lose their waist. Researchers at the University of Medical Sciences in Poland have discovered that modest strength training can help prevent these side effects.


The fat that women gain during hormone therapy builds up mainly in the 'wrong places': around the middle of the body and the abdomen. Hormone therapy makes the waist disappear. The average waist:hip ratio [WHR] of the women increased in weeks 1-6 from 0.75 to 0.80. According to anthropological studies men worldwide find a female body with a WHR of 0.7 the most attractive.



In months 7-12 the women's waist:hip ratio fell to 0.78 and in months 13-18 it fell further to 0.76.


Breast cancer survivors are often put on hormone therapy for years after they've had chemotherapy and surgery. While it can drastically reduce the chances of a new bout of cancer, hormone therapy leads to muscle and bone-mass loss and an increase of fat around the midriff, so women lose their waist. Researchers at the University of Medical Sciences in Poland have discovered that modest strength training can help prevent these side effects.


Diet
The term 'diet' is nowhere to be found in the Poles' article. You wonder what would have happened in the researchers had also improved the women's dietary habits.

Source:
Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2013 Jun;49(3):331-9.

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