03:08pm Thursday 27 February 2020

Competitive Sport Improves Myocardial Performance in Breast Cancer Survivors

SAN FRANCISCO – Exercise is often the best medicine a physician can prescribe. In cancer patients, many recent studies have confirmed that consistent physical activity, especially at a high level, can reduce the risk of cancer returning and aid in a longer survival post diagnosis. A study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 59th Annual Meeting in San Francisco evaluates the effects of a long-term, competitive sport activity on the cardiovascular performance in women with breast cancer.

Dragon boat racing has become an increasingly popular competitive sport for breast cancer survivors as the activity requires significant movement in the upper body muscle tissue. A research team at the Sports Medicine Center in Florence, Italy, conducted a four-year study on 30 dragon boat racers a year removed from breast cancer treatment. The subjects were compared to a group of competitive healthy female dragon boat racers.

“Cancer diagnosis and treatment can undoubtedly take a toll on the body and its physical stamina,” said lead researcher Laura Stephani, M.D. “This study suggests that competitive sports activity has a positive impact on myocardial performance in women with breast cancer. Equally important, long-term competitive sport activity appears to have no negative impact on their cardiovascular performance.”

For the study, researchers observed a group of 30 regularly trained women one year removed from breast cancer treatment. Over a four-year period, each woman was required to complete an annual cardio-pulmonary test and a 2-D echocardiogram evaluating cardiac parameters in addition to heart rate and blood pressure values measured at the beginning and end of each year. The data was then compared to a group of competitively healthy women.

At the end of the four-year study, all echo parameters were within normal range for both groups of women. In addition, resting heart rate was lower after four years of training for the women with breast cancer.

For more information on the benefits of exercise for cancer survivors, see the guidelines developed by a multi-organizational ACSM Roundtable.


The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 45,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine. Research highlighted in this news release has been presented at a professional meeting but has not been peer-reviewed.

The American College of Sports Medicine 59th Annual Meeting is going on now at the Moscone Center West.

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