Study shows exercise formula improves lives for breast cancer survivors

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Recovering from a serious disease like breast cancer can set you back in many ways. (KABC)

Recovering from a serious disease like breast cancer can set you back in many ways.

Once a patient gets through treatment, they may be at a higher risk for other serious diseases, but local researchers think they have a remedy.

For more than a year after her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, 51-year-old Joyce Chao struggled.

"You don't want to see anybody. You don't want to talk about anything, so any activity that you want to do is sleep," she said.

Once treatment is done, most people mistakenly believe that the battle is over, But USC researcher Christina Dieli-Conwright said it's a struggle for patients to bounce back physically and emotionally .

"Many people are unaware that the actual cause of death in breast cancer survivors is actually heart disease," said Dieli-Conwright.
Fearing recurrence, many patients often become depressed and sedentary. Symptoms of metabolic syndrome such as high blood pressure, diabetes and excess fat take their toll.

"You want to get well, but you don't really know how," said Chao.

USC Researcher Christina Dieli-Conwright taught Chao how to take charge. She enrolled Chao into a 16-week study to see if exercise could turn things around.

At the start, 80 percent of the ethnically-diverse group suffered from metabolic syndrome. After, 65 percent saw dramatic improvement.

The exercise prescription? Two-and-a-half hours of aerobic activity per week, plus two bouts of strength training.

"We also saw gains in muscle mass and reductions in fat mass, but they did not report any changes in their diet habits, " Dieli-Conwright said, "Exercise is truly medicine."

It's a regimen Chao wants to continue for the rest of her life.

"When you are moving, when you're exercising, when you're moving your muscles, you are alive," said Chao.

Related Topics:
healthhealthbreast cancercancerexerciseCircle of HealthLos AngelesLos Angeles County
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