Like most American women (and men), most breast cancer survivors may also not be exercising enough to reap its many health benefits, suggests a new study. Yet it’s African American survivors who are even less likely to meet the activity recommendations compared to white women. The study was published this week in Cancer.
Research has linked regular physical activity among survivors to to improved health and lower mortality. The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for survivors urge all to avoid inactivity and aim to meet the government guidelines.
In the study, about 1,700 women diagnosed with breast cancer reported their activity habits both before their diagnosis and six months afterwards. The women ranged in age from 20 to 74, and about half were African American. Researchers converted the women’s activity habits into a common unit of measure: metabolic equivalent hours (METs).
Six months after diagnosis, 59 percent of all the patients reported being less active. Only about one-third of women reported they were active at least 150 minutes per week compared to 60 percent before diagnosis.
When the researchers analyzed the data by race, they found that fewer African American women reported meeting the activity guidelines both before and after diagnosis, compared to white women. About a quarter of the African American women were meeting the activity guidelines six months post diagnosis. And slightly over half reported being sedentary, compared to almost 40 percent of white women. The study did find a positive: about one in five women increased their activity after diagnosis.
As the authors note, this study includes self reports and recalling, which could lead to inaccurate data. As this study concludes, more research is needed as to how treatment and other issues play a role in helping survivors best avoid inactivity and become active.
Source: Hair, B. Y., Hayes, S., Tse, C.-K., Bell, M. B. and Olshan, A. F. (2014). “Racial differences in physical activity among breast cancer survivors: Implications for breast cancer care.” Cancer. Article first published online: June 9, 2014.
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