Exercise more effective than meds at relieving fatigue for cancer patients

Psychological interventions, such as therapy to help change personal behavior and the way a person thinks about his or her circumstances, also had a similar, beneficial effect.

Exercise could be a more effective way of reducing cancer-related fatigue than medications suggests new research published this week in JAMA Oncology.

Led by the Wilmot Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester in the state of New York, the study analyzed more than 11,000 patients across 113 unique studies that tested various treatments for cancer-related fatigue.

All were randomized clinical trials, the highest standard for evaluating effective treatments.

Nearly half of the studies’ participants were women with breast cancer, with ten studies focusing on other types of cancer and including only men.

All of the participants suffered cancer-related fatigue, the most common side effect during and after cancer treatment.

This type of fatigue is different from being chronically tired, explains lead author Karen Mustian, and is a “crushing” sensation that’s not relieved by rest or sleep and that can persist for months or even years.

Even more concerning, Mustian explained, is that this fatigue can decrease a patient’s chances of survival because sufferers are less likely to complete medical treatments, with the National Cancer Institute putting cancer-related fatigue as a top research priority.

After analyzing the data, Mustian and her team found that exercise alone — including both aerobic or anaerobic — had the most significant effect on reducing cancer-related fatigue.

Psychological interventions, such as therapy to help change personal behavior and the way a person thinks about his or her circumstances, also had a similar, beneficial effect.

However, perhaps surprisingly, studies which looked at a combination of exercise and psychological therapy had mixed results, with the researchers unable to say for sure what is the best combination of both to make them effective.

With exercise and/or psychological therapy working better than medications used for treating cancer-related fatigue, the team now believe that these methods should be recommended first to patients.

“The literature bears out that these drugs don’t work very well although they are continually prescribed,” commented Mustian, “Cancer patients already take a lot of medications and they all come with risks and side effects. So any time you can subtract a pharmaceutical from the picture it usually benefits patients.”

“If a cancer patient is having trouble with fatigue, rather than looking for extra cups of coffee, a nap, or a pharmaceutical solution, consider a 15-minute walk,” she suggested.

Mustian has been studying exercise and cancer alongside Wilmot colleagues for almost 15 years. Much or her work looks at gentle yoga, walking, resistance bands, and other forms of movement to help ease side effects.

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/2017/03/05/exercise-more-effective-than-meds-at-relieving-fatigue-for-cancer-patients/

 

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Author: CA Care

In obedience to God's will and counting on His mercies and blessings, and driven by the desire to care for one another, we seek to provide help, direction and relief to those who suffer from cancer.

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