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Exercise IS Medicine!

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Mike AlpertMike Alpert

For my article this month, I want to write about our Living Well After Cancer Program, and specifically, the medical research study being conducted by the City of Hope. As you will see, the results are pretty phenomenal and certainly support the title: Exercise IS Medicine.

Cancer treatment is becoming more effective, and the number of cancer survivors is increasing exponentially each and every year. There are currently 16.9 million cancer survivors currently living in the United States, which constitutes 5% of our total population. This number is expected to increase to 21.7 million people by 2029 and to 26.1 million by 2040.

Many people with cancer experience physical and psychological symptoms related to cancer treatment. While some of these symptoms go away soon after treatment, others persist long-term (coined "collateral damage of successful treatment"). Some of these long-term symptoms may include pain, neuropathy (debilitating numbness with nerve pain in limbs), fatigue, weight gain, depression, anxiety and cognitive concerns (referred to as chemo brain).

What is less known is that, after cancer treatment, a lot of people experience metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing a person's risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. Metabolic syndrome has also been linked to an increase in cancer recurrence as well as mortality.

According to the lead researcher of the study, Jessica Clague DeHart, "the FANTASTIC news is that exercise, even a small amount of moderate level activity, has been shown to not only alleviate both short-term and long-term treatment-related symptoms, but it has been shown to also reverse metabolic syndrome. In fact, we evaluated our Living Well After Cancer Program over the past year and saw dramatic changes among the participants. After 12 weeks of participating in the Living Well After Cancer Program, the conditions related to metabolic syndrome were alleviated in the majority of participants and metabolic syndrome was reversed."

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