Research & Articles

Research: Exercise Improves Body Fat, Lean Mass, and Bone Mass in Breast Cancer Survivors

In a February 2009 article in the Journal of Obesity, Exercise Improves Body Fat, Lean Mass, and Bone Mass in Breast Cancer Survivors, researchers from Yale University, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and others found that: “In our study, aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, was associated with decreases in body fat, increases in LBM, and maintenance of BMD in breast cancer survivors. The observation that aerobic exercise accompanied by fat loss was not associated with a significant loss of BMD is important. In postmenopausal women, adipose tissue is the main site of androgen conversion to estrogen by the enzyme aromatase (35). As postmenopausal women lose body fat, their serum estrogen concentrations decrease, which could cause a decrease in BMD. Thus, it is plausible that exercise accompanied by fat loss could have a negative effect on bone health in postmenopausal women. However, in our study, we observed a maintenance of BMD with exercise and subsequent fat loss. Furthermore, women who were taking aromatase inhibitors, which significantly decreased estrogen concentrations to undetectable levels (36), and randomized to exercise, experienced decreases in body fat, increases in lean mass and maintenance of BMD and BMC, compared to no change in body fat and losses in LBM, BMD, and BMC among women randomized to usual care. These results are encouraging for the many postmenopausal women who are recommended to take aromatase inhibitors to improve their prognosis.”

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