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Issue 140 Summer 2021

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Exercise intensity, inflammation and cancer treatment

| Hot topics


Exercise training has been hypothesised to reduce inflammation in patients with cancer. It may be an effective non-pharmacological strategy to limit the impact of inflammation on disease recurrence. Markers of inflammation increase during cancer treatment, but the role of exercise intensity in inflammatory burden has not been explored.

Schauer et al. compared the effect of high intensity (HI) versus low-moderate intensity (LMI) exercise on changes in blood inflammatory markers before and after primary (neo-)adjuvant chemotherapy. Patients performed 6 months of combined aerobic and resistance exercise at either HI or LMI. Inflammatory markers were measured in a full cohort of 394 patients with breast, prostate or colorectal cancer, as well as in a subgroup of 154 women with breast cancer. Plasma samples were obtained at baseline, at the end of primary treatment and post-intervention. Regardless of exercise intensity, primary treatment increased inflammation, which was followed by a reduction after cessation of treatment. Interleukin-6 (IL6), IL8 and tumour necrosis factor (TNF) remained elevated after exercise intervention for patients exercising at LMI but not at HI. In patients with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy, C-reactive protein and TNF increased less with HI compared with LMI exercise post-treatment.

These results suggest that HI exercise might protect against increases in inflammatory burden, and patients with breast cancer may benefit from HI exercise during chemotherapy.

Read the full article in Endocrine-Related Cancer 28 191–201

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