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"I found it was really very effective. It not only gave me strength and mobility but it improved my balance and coordination," said one participant, Clare Faber, 66, of suburban Philadelphia. "It really does offer women hope."
Another participant, Gay McArthur, 56, of Smithfield, N.J., has continued weightlifting on her own since the study ended.
"When I first got diagnosed with lymphedema, they said I couldn't lift more than five pounds," she said. But weight training caused no problems and has made her feel better, she said.
It also should save money, though the study did not measure this, Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, wrote in an editorial in the medical journal. In the study, the group of weightlifters made only 77 visits to doctors or physical therapists for lymphedema flare-ups versus 195 visits for the others, she noted.
Another part of the study is evaluating whether weight training can prevent a first case of lymphedema in breast cancer survivors; results are expected soon, Schmitz said.
Breast cancer survivors should not rush into weight training -- that could trigger problems. Schmitz suggests:
Have a certified fitness professional teach you how to do the exercises properly.
Start slow, with a program that gradually progresses.
Wear a well-fitting compression garment during workouts.
On the Net:
New England Journal: http://www.nejm.org/
Lymphedema advice: http://tinyurl.com/l9lgga
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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