Research Says Exercising While on Chemo Can Help Cancer Patients

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CLIVE, Iowa -- Many people believe that when a person is diagnosed with cancer they should take it easy. However, researchers and health professionals are saying just the opposite. 

Creighton University recently came out with a study stating that exercising during chemo treatment not only helps cancer patients with the side effects of chemo, but it can also stunt the growth of existing tumors. Dr. Richard Deming, the Local Medical Director at Mercy One Cancer Center in Des Moines, said this is absolutely true and patients can suffer from the old fashion narrative of taking it easy. 

“Eighty-five percent of women going through breast cancer treatment are going to gain more than 20 pounds. Because of that sort of mentality, ‘I’m sorry you have cancer, take it easy,’” Dr. Deming said. 

Dr. Deming says vigorous physical activity can also prevent cancer from coming back for survivors. A study done by the University of Iowa says two in five Iowans will be diagnosed with cancer. Dr. Deming suggests that exercising can lessen a person’s odds by up to 69%. 

“If we had a pill that could reduce the risk of developing cancer, that had that major of an effect, it would be a colossal success,” Dr. Deming said. 

Dr. Deming’s nonprofit, Above and Beyond Cancer, hosts exercise classes all throughout the week to get cancer patients and survivors active. Dr. Deming also said that not only does it improve a patient’s physical health, but their quality of life as well. He says statistics from Above and Beyond Cancer show that 90% of those who’ve engaged in a fitness program have had improvements in quality of life. He believes health professionals should make patients more aware of the benefits of working out.

“It gets my mind off of the disease, it gives me a chance to work out with some great people, family, and friends, and it helps physically and mentally,” said breast cancer survivor Poon Tigges, a patient of Dr. Deming's.

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