Women with breast cancer being treated with aromatase inhibitors often experience joint pain that can lead them to quitting the therapy.
However, many experts believe the joint pain is an indication that the therapy is working, meaning these patients are the ones who definitely should not be abandoning the therapy.
Previous methods of intervening have included acupuncture, glucosamine and vitamin D, but a new study suggests that the most effective method of reducing that joint pain is moderate exercise, which after one year was found to reduced pain scores between 20 and 30 percent.
Researchers, led by Melinda Irwin, PhD, of Yale University School of Public Health, recruited 121 women with hormone-receptor positive breast cancer who had been taking an aromatase inhibitor for at least 6 months, and who reported mild joint pain.
They were randomized to either a yearlong exercise program (featuring a supervised strength training and aerobic exercise twice a week) or to nothing more than a recommendation to exercise along with monthly check-ups.
Participant mean age was 60, and on average they were overweight, inactive, and had been taking an aromatase inhibitor for one and a half years.
After a year, investigators reported that on average, scores for worst pain dropped 20 percent for the exercisers but by less than 1 percent for control patients. Additionally, the average pain severity fell 21 percent for exercisers without changing at all for the control group.
Finally, those in the exercise group lost more weight, became more physically fit, and the amount that pain interfered with their daily life dropped 29 percent, while dropping only one percent for control patients.
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