According to a new study, breast cancer patients who have completed their treatment may benefit from participating in competitive sports. Researchers from the Sports Medical Center in Florence, Italy, have found that being involved in high-energy sports may contribute to a healthier heart and even reduce the risk of a relapse in breast cancer survivors.

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Researchers followed 30 dragon boat racers who had finished one year of breast cancer treatment for four years. At the beginning and end of each year, the study authors checked the women's heart function and compared the data they got with those from the healthy dragon boat racers. According to the results, all the breast cancer survivors had heart function within the normal range. After four years of training, their heart rates at rest also eventually got lower.

Apparently, dragon boat racing gave the women an extreme upper body workout, which was good for their myocardial performance. Long-term involvement in competitive sports also didn't seem to have negative effects on their overall health.

Since cancer can take quite a toll on a woman’s health and stamina, it would be a good idea for her to get some exercise in order to regain her physical strength. However, the study results have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal and should still be considered preliminary. In addition, breast cancer survivors should check with their doctors first before making any changes to their exercise routine.

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(Photo by Paul Henman via Flickr Creative Commons)

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