Team triathlon effects on physiological, psychological, and immunological measures in women breast cancer survivors


Translational Oncology Research (TORQUE), Endocrine Research Laboratory, Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center, Immunotherapy Research Laboratory, Advocate Aurora Research Institute


PURPOSE: Exercise after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment improves cancer-related outcomes, although the mechanisms involved are not clear. This study evaluated the impact of exercise on body composition, strength, endurance, quality of life (QOL), fatigue, and endocrine and inflammatory biomarkers in breast cancer survivors participating in a highly monitored, clinically supervised, moderate-intensity exercise program. The association of hormonal and inflammatory biomarkers with the observed physiological changes was assessed.

METHODS: Female breast cancer survivors (BCS; n = 46) who engaged in a goal-oriented 14-week triathlon exercise training program were compared to an untrained control group of female BCS (n = 16). Psychosocial metrics, QOL, cancer-related fatigue, and exercise self-efficacy were evaluated via pre- and post-exercise intervention questionnaires. Serum estradiol and inflammatory biomarkers (C-reactive protein (CRP), sTNFR1a, estradiol, leptin, and adiponectin) were measured prior to the exercise training program start and after the completion of the goal triathlon.

RESULTS: After exercise training, the exercise group had lower BMI and arm circumferences. Greater positive change was noted in the trained group for QOL, fatigue, and self-efficacy questionnaires. Functional endurance improved in the trained but not the control group. Knee and elbow strength were not different between the groups, except that knee flexion at 180 degrees∙sec

CONCLUSIONS: Group triathlon exercise training may be beneficial to BCS by significantly improving their psychosocial measures, functional endurance, and BMI.

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