Exercise after chemotherapy restores immune function
Exercise is good to prevent heart attack, and in recent studies exercise is shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer. Now there is more reason to do regular exercise for patients receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. A recent study has shown that regular exercise after chemotherapy would boost the immune function by stimulating the T-cell activity. This interesting study was recently presented at Era of Hope Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program meeting.
Andrea Mastro PHD, who is a professor of microbiology and cell biology at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, had the leading role in this study. Mastro and her colleagues were very pleased to find that regular and appropriate exercise can help breast cancer patients and by helping the breast cancer survivor's immune function to bounce back to normal after administration of chemotherapy.
The researchers have found that exercise can improve physical and psychological functions and reduce the duration of neutropenia (low white cell count), thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) and hospitalization time.
The study population consisted of 28 patients who were assigned to exercise group and 21 patients who were assigned to non-exercise group. The mean age of women in the exercise group was 48.5 and in the non-exercise group was 52.3. One month after surgery for breast cancer, women in the exercise group started an exercise program that included resistance training and aerobic activity. The researchers also allotted a kinesiology intern as trainee for the exercise group. The women in the exercise group worked with the trainee for three months under supervision in the hospital. This group exercised about 60 to 90 minutes three times per week.
The researchers have found that in about three to six months, the group who were assigned to exercise had more activated lymphocytes compared to the group who were in the non-exercise group. Lymphocytes that were damaged or killed by chemotherapy were more quickly replaced by new and young lymphocytes in the exercise group compared to the group who were not doing exercise. The group assigned to exercise also scored higher on overall quality of life, and social well being according to this study. This exercise group also experienced less fatigue compared to the group who did not do regular exercise.