ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
BONES & JOINTS
Healthy adults have potential autoimmune disease-causing cells
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
CANCER
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Lose Nutritional Luster Over Time
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
Leafy Greens Top Risky Food List
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Lead Exposure in Childhood Linked to Criminal Behavior Later
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Gas Stove Emissions Boost Asthma in Inner-City Kids
EYE CARE, VISION
Action-Filled Video Games Boost Adult Vision
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness
FITNESS
Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Coffee Cuts Liver Scarring in Hepatitis C
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Add your Article

Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors

(HealthDay News) -- Lifting weights can help prevent flare-ups of lymphedema, a painful swelling of the arm that often occurs after breast cancer surgery, new research shows.

The finding runs counter to what women have been told for years -- that they should avoid stressing the arm during strength training or other exercise because muscle strain can cause lymphedema to worsen.

The study is published in the Aug. 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers divided 141 breast cancer survivors who had lymphedema into two groups. One group did twice-weekly weight training using slowly increasing weights for 13 weeks. Afterward, they were told to continue the exercises unsupervised for 39 weeks. The other group was told to maintain their normal exercise and activity regimen.

About 11 percent of the weight-lifting group and 12 percent of the control group had an increase of 5 percent or more in limb swelling, according to the study, not a significant difference.

Yet the weight-lifting group had greater improvements in self-reported severity of lymphedema symptoms, an improvement in upper- and lower-body strength and a lower incidence of lymphedema exacerbations.

About 14 percent of the weight-lifting group experienced a flare-up compared to 29 percent of those in the control group, according to a certified lymphedema specialist who examined the participants.

"We found that twice-weekly, slowly progressive strength training does not increase the likelihood of swelling and decreases the likelihood of flare-ups," said study author Kathryn Schmitz, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

In the past, advice to women about dealing with lymphedema has been confusing, Schmitz noted. Standard advice has been to keep the skin clean and moisturized, be careful when clipping nails, wear compression sleeves to prevent swelling or to do gentle, therapeutic exercises to promote lymphatic drainage.

Earlier epidemiological studies found a link between arm injuries or muscle strain and flare-ups, Schmitz said.

"They were extremely well-meaning guidelines that said to avoid stressing the arm," Schmitz said. "What that translated into was advice to avoid lifting anything like grocery bags, children or even a purse."

Not only did this make life more difficult, the lack of activity meant the arm muscles weakened, making muscle strains and other injuries more likely.

"What I'm suggesting is that if women slowly, progressively make themselves stronger, they will be less likely to overuse the arm because they have trained the arm," Schmitz said.

Up to 62 percent of women treated for breast cancer develop lymphedema, an accompanying editorial noted.

A study in the March 16 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that women who develop lymphedema fare worse than women without the condition and have higher out-of-pocket medical costs after radiation and surgery.

Women with lymphedema report a lower quality of life, higher levels of anxiety and depression, an increased likelihood of chronic pain and fatigue and greater difficulty functioning socially and sexually, according to the study. Lymphedema also boosted two-year, postoperative medical costs.

In an accompanying editorial, Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, a professor in the department of behavioral science at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, noted that making progressive resistance training a standard part of post-cancer care could help to lower those costs and improve women's lives.

"The significance of the study is that women who have had breast cancer surgery or radiation treatment have been told that they shouldn't lift any weight and to avoid repetitive motions. As a result, we have a generation of women who have almost become incapacitated," Demark-Wahnefried said. "They've been leery to lift groceries or their children, or fail to go back to jobs due to the risk of lymphedema. This study helps to lift some of that concern."

For some of the women in the study, the weight-lifting regimen, which was done at YMCAs in the Philadelphia area with fitness instructors who had received a three-day training in lymphedema care, left them feeling fitter than even before they had cancer, Schmitz said.

SOURCES: Kathryn Schmitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor, epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Ph.D., R.D., professor, department of behavioral science, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; Aug. 13, 2009, New England Journal of Medicine