Study digs deeper into exercise benefits for breast cancer survivors

Study digs deeper into exercise benefits for breast cancer survivors
(Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - We hear about the benefits of exercise all the time. In fact, researchers believe it can do great things for breast cancer survivors and they're about to put that to the test right here in Cleveland.

A major study is kicking off this month led by University Hospitals, involving all the big health care providers in Cleveland.

Many breast cancer survivors are told that exercise is the key to better health.

Past studies have shown it significantly lessens the breast cancer mortality rate and the chance of recurrence.

Dr. Cynthia Owusu, M.D. of UH says the latest study will dig even deeper.

"What we don't understand is how exercise does that, so this study is to try to understand the biological basis of the effect of exercise on breast cancer," Dr. Owusu said.

She is talking about the five-year study that she is heading up. It's a first major clinical trial of its kind, federally funded, to figure out the "why" and the "how" when it comes exercise benefits for older breast cancer patients. It will focusing on African Americans and on women of lower socioeconomic status.

"We are very, very excited," Dr. Owusu said, explaining how it will work.

320 women will be studied, half of them on a regular exercise program to be held at The Gathering Place, the other half, a control group put in just a support program.

This will help to measure the true impact physical activity has on physical function, body composition, and what's called biomarkers, or hormones that are associated with breast cancer like insulin.

The doctor says, in addition to figuring out why exercise is so helpful to breast cancer patients, they expect to also learn how much exercise is needed exactly to save lives, and if those changes that come with exercise can be derived by other means like medications.

Dr. Owusu is also very excited about the fact that the study allows for another group.

Women of the same age as the ones in the study will help design the exercise program to ensure it is something that's really "doable" for most.

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