A trial looking at the effect of exercise and dietary changes for women recovering from breast cancer treatment

Cancer type:

Breast cancer





This trial was to see if a programme of regular exercise and dietary advice led to weight loss and an improvement in the general health and well being of women after treatment for breast cancer.

Many women recovering from breast cancer have physical and emotional problems related to their diagnosis and treatment. This can affect their quality of life. Many women also gain weight during and after treatment for breast cancer. Researchers wanted to find out if making changes to diet and taking regular exercise could help women to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight and improve their quality of life after treatment.

The aim of this trial was to learn more about the effects of exercise and dietary changes in women who had been treated for breast cancer.

Summary of results

The researchers found that women who followed an exercise programme and received advice about diet lost a moderate amount of weight and reported an improvement in their quality of life.

The trial recruited 90 women who had finished treatment for breast cancer between 3 and 18 months earlier. All the women who took part were overweight with a body mass index (BMI) Open a glossary item of more than 25. Their average age was just under 56. They were put into 2 groups at random.

The 47 women in group 1 took part in 3 supervised exercise sessions each week for 6 months. They also received advice about how they could improve their diet and reduce the number of calories they ate.

The 43 women in group 2 were the control group Open a glossary item. They didn’t take part in the exercise programme or have any specific dietary advice. They were given a booklet about healthy eating and asked to live life as normal.

The researchers weighed all the women and measured their waists and hips. The ratio of these 2 measurements gives an indication of potentially hazardous 'central' body fat.

Women in both groups filled in questionnaires at the beginning of the trial and again after 6 months. The questionnaires asked about their general health and how they were feeling (their quality of life).

After 6 months, the researchers had results for 41 women in group 1 and 38 women in group 2.

They found that 26 women in group 1 had lost at least 1kg of weight, compared to 13 women in the control group. On average, their waist measurements got smaller and their waist/hip ratios improved. They also found that women in the lifestyle intervention group changed their diets so that they were eating less fat, and their blood pressure had gone down.

The women in group 1 also rated their quality of life better after 6 months.

The researchers concluded that exercise and dietary advice can have a positive impact on women’s health after treatment for breast cancer. They suggest that other trials could look at ways to offer women more support in making changes to their diet. And that future trials should monitor women for longer periods of time to see the long term effects of diet and exercise.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor John Saxton

Supported by

National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
Sheffield Hallam University Centre for Sport and Exercise Science
The American Institute for Cancer Research
Weston Park Hospital

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle - 2138

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Deborah wanted to help other breast cancer patients in the future

A picture of Deborah

“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."

Last reviewed:

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