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For Breast Cancer Survivors, A Weight-bearing Tai Chi Program Effective on Bone Metabolism

June 28, 2010 - Treatments for breast cancer, specifically hormonal therapy, accelerate bone loss among breast cancer survivors, leading to osteoporosis and an increase in fracture risk. Tai Chi is a moderate form of weight-bearing exercise, equivalent to walking, and it has been shown to improve aerobic capacity and strength among breast cancer survivors and might also be effective in slowing bone loss in breast cancer survivors.

In a pilot study by the Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Rochester Medical Center, a group of researchers compared the influence of Tai Chi with that of standard support therapy on bone loss biomarkers among breast cancer survivors.

In that study, reported by the journal Clinical breast cancer in its June 2010 issue,  16 breast cancer survivors were randomly assigned to either complete 12 weeks of Tai Chi practice or support therapy. The participants met 3 times a week with 60 minutes per session.

At the end of the study, the survivors in the Tai Chi group experienced a greater increase in levels of bone formation, compared with survivors in the support therapy group. Survivors in the Tai Chi group also experienced a significant decrease in bone resorption, whereas women in the support therapy group did not. This pilot study suggests that weight-bearing exercise of Tai Chi exerts positive effects on bone loss, through increased bone formation and decreased bone resorption.




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