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SABCS: Weights Not Tied to Breast CA-Related Lymphedema

Last Updated: December 09, 2010.

A slow, progressive weight lifting program does not appear to increase the incidence of breast cancer-related lymphedema in breast cancer survivors, according to research published online Dec. 8 in the Journal of the American Medical Association to coincide with presentation at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 8 to 12.

THURSDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- A slow, progressive weight lifting program does not appear to increase the incidence of breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) in breast cancer survivors, according to research published online Dec. 8 in the Journal of the American Medical Association to coincide with presentation at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from Dec. 8 to 12.

To evaluate the effect of one year of weight lifting on incidence of BCRL, Kathryn H. Schmitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues randomized 154 breast cancer survivors with at least two lymph nodes removed to a weight lifting program or no exercise.

Of the 134 participants who completed follow-up at one year, the researchers found that 11 percent in the weight lifting group experienced incident BCRL onset, as did 17 percent in the no exercise group. In women who had had at least five lymph nodes removed, 7 percent in the weight lifting group experienced BCRL onset versus 22 percent in the no exercise group.

"In breast cancer survivors at risk for lymphedema, a program of slowly progressive weight lifting compared with no exercise did not result in increased incidence of lymphedema," the authors write.

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