Study to check if workouts cut down breast cancer risk

April 3rd, 2009 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 3 (IANS) Can workouts help women vulnerable to breast cancer cut down the risk? A new study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (UPSM) will examine two levels of regular treadmill exercise and see whether they lower the risk.
“We would like to find out if exercise could buy high-risk women time they need to more safely think through their options,” said Kathryn Schmitz, assistant professor at the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the UPSM, who is heading the study.

Over the next three years, Schmitz’s team will enroll 160 women aged 18 to 40 who have an elevated risk of getting breast cancer based on their family history of the disease. However, participants will not be required to undergo genetic testing.

Unlike surgery, exercise is a low-cost intervention with few side effects, so Schmitz is hopeful that the study results will offer risk-reduction tools to a larger swath of high-risk women.

As many as 80 percent of the women who carry BRCA genetic mutation will develop breast or ovarian cancer during their lives. A mutation is a permanent change in the DNA sequence of a gene.

For example, such a mutation, inherited from parents, no longer suppresses abnormal growth and cancer is more likely to develop.

Accordingly, options for risk reduction are drastic and few, and the choices may be unacceptable to some women, said a UPSM release.

Previous Penn research shows that whole breast removal slashes breast cancer risk by 90 percent, while ovary removal halves breast cancer risk and reduces their chances of getting ovarian cancer by about 85 to 90 percent.

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