Several studies among breast cancer survivors suggest that exercise may help in multiple ways, including improving women's quality of life and reducing risk of recurrence. It's not just conventional exercises that may help, suggests a small new study published in Clinical Breast Cancer.
The study focused on the physiologic effects of the martial art Tai Chi Chuan on breast cancer survivors. In the study, 19 breast cancer survivors were randomly assigned to either a Tai Chi group or a group that focused on coping strategies. None of the women were moderately active more than once a week. After meeting three times weekly for 12 weeks, researchers analyzed blood samples taken at the beginning and end of the study.
Compared to the women who participated in Tai Chi, the women in the comparison group had higher levels of several biomarkers linked with increased risk of breast cancer. For example, while insulin levels remained stable in the Tai Chi group, it increased in the comparison group. The results are only preliminary, conclude the authors, but they are encouraging.
Source: Michelle C. Janelsins et al. "Effects of Tai Chi Chuan on Insulin and Cytokine Levels in a Randomized Controlled Pilot Study on Breast Cancer Survivors." Clin Breast Cancer. 2011 Jun;11(3):161-70. Epub 2011.