SWHR Sponsors Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Yale University, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Study on Exercise and Breast Cancer

Washington, DC (April 5, 2011) - The Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR) is partnering with Susan G. Komen for the Cure® to sponsor research to study the link between exercise and breast cancer.

"I'm pleased to announce SWHR's $1,000,000 award from Susan G. Komen for the Cure® that will fund Dr. Jennifer Ligibel of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Melinda Irwin of Yale University, and Dr. Deborah Dillon of Brigham and Women's Hospital to study the benefit of exercise on breast cancer," said Phyllis Greenberger, MSW, President and CEO of SWHR. "It is our hope that this research will provide women with helpful measures to increase their chance of survival if diagnosed with this devastating disease."

Earlier studies have consistently shown that moderate amounts of exercise lowers breast cancer incidence in women. "Observational evidence suggests that women who exercise are less likely to develop breast cancer, and several recent reports also demonstrate lower rates of breast cancer recurrence in women who exercise after diagnosis," said Dana-Farber investigator Jennifer Ligibel, MD. "Little is known, however, about the biological mechanisms through which exercise could lower breast cancer risk and improve outcomes. With this project, we hope to shed some light upon the pathways through which exercise could influence breast cancer."

To understand the effect of exercise on biological mechanisms will require use of interdisciplinary approaches and methods from both basic and clinical research. "We are thrilled to bring together a network of experts in the field that will include medical oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, epidemiologists and behavioral scientists. By forming a transdisciplinary team of scientists, we will use an innovative design and methods to examine how exercise impacts breast cancer risk and recurrence," said Yale University's Melinda Irwin, PhD.

Breast cancer is still the most common cancer among women in the United States and accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths every year despite decreases in incidence rates due to early detection and existing therapies. Exercise promises to offer an alternate cost-effective, non-medical treatment option for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, leading to improved quality of life.

"If this research can demonstrate that physical activity leads to alterations in these or other biological pathways, this would help provide important basic information that links exercise to breast cancer," said Komen President Elizabeth Thompson. "That information could then be used to both direct future research and to develop guidelines for millions of breast cancer survivors and women at risk of developing the disease."

Click here to learn more about SWHR's Interdisciplinary Networks.


For more information on the Society for Women’s Health Research, please contact Rachel Griffith at 202-496-5001 or Rachel@swhr.org.

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