Physical Activity “Imperative” in Breast Cancer Support, Management
Studies have shown a beneficial link between physical activity and breast cancer prevention and management. A review published in the journal Cancers outlines the evidence supporting physical activity to support different breast cancer treatments and its role in improving quality of life. It argues that physical activity is central to the treatment and management of breast cancer.
Current evidence suggests as many as 90-95% of all cancer cases are related to lifestyle or environmental factors. Specific to breast cancer, data suggest 1 in 4 cases may be preventable with lifestyle management. Among active women, researchers observed a 25% reduction in breast cancer risk compared to inactive women. Risk reduction differs by age, menopausal status, and hereditary factors.
Studies also underline the importance of physical activity in breast cancer patients due to its beneficial effects on survival, mortality, and prognosis. Physical activity can also help manage comorbidities linked to breast cancer, including cardiovascular disease, lymphedema, and cognitive dysfunction. It can also have a positive impact on quality of life.
Both aerobic and resistance training, as well as combined aerobic and resistance training can be effective for women with breast cancer. Evidence does not suggest enhanced benefits for a longer duration or higher volumes of aerobic and resistance training. When creating a training plan for breast cancer patients, professionals should consider factors like:
- cancer-related symptoms,
- environmental barriers such as time or cost,
- knowledge and self-efficacy, and
- fitness history.
The authors also recommend using physical activity trackers, accelerometers, and other wearable devices to track physical activity, which can help determine the most effective programs.
The authors conclude by noting, “It is essential to understand that [physical activity] is another part of a great and complex puzzle. [Physical activity], along with other lifestyle interventions, did not cure [breast cancer] by itself, but it entails an imperative additional support to maximize the rate of success in [breast cancer] management.”