Science and Health

Exercise Could Decrease Pain In Breast Cancer Survivors

New research presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium shows exercise can help breast cancer survivors who have pain from medication.

Exercise Could Decrease Pain In Breast Cancer Survivors
Wikimedia Commons / J. VĂ­lchez

For many women, surviving breast cancer isn't the end of the journey. A lot of survivors take aromatase inhibitors to reduce the risk of relapse, which can have painful side effects.

But new research shows exercise can help to ease that pain. (Via NBC)

Aromatase inhibitors, or Als, are used in postmenopausal women to block production of estrogen, the hormone that feeds most breast cancers. AIs can reduce the chance of relapse by up to 50 percent. (Via American Cancer Society)

"The typical side effects, the ones I hear about pretty regularly, are the muscle aches and pains and join pains." (Via YouTube / Breast Cancer Answers

More than half of women who take Als report experiencing these side effects. And one of the researchers in the study, presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, said in a statement:

"Unfortunately, many patients discontinue the drug because of its unpleasant side effects. ... [And these] results are a promising first step in developing clinical interventions that can improve AI-associated joint pain and, in turn, AI adherence, breast cancer survival, and quality of life." (Via EurekAlert!

So to break down the study a little further, it lasted about a year and involved 121 women, half of whom were assigned to supervised aerobic and strengthening exercises. (Via CBS)

Those who exercised more saw a 29 percent decrease in their worst pain, while those who didn't add the extra exercise to their regimen only saw a 7 percent drop. Researchers don't know exactly why exercise helped but said it probably reduces inflammation. (Via USA Today)

They also said women who experience the worst pain from AIs are the ones that probably benefit the most from the medication — increasing the importance of the findings.