ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
CANCER
Some Spices Cut Cancer Risk That Comes With Grilled Burgers
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
CAREGIVING
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
Distance No Bar to Kidney Transplants in Remote Areas
Recession Scrambling Health Spending in U.S.
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Iced Teas Pose High Risk of Kidney Stones
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pregnant Rural Women More at Risk
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
FITNESS
Football Can Shrink Players
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Laugh and the World Understands
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Arteries Age Twice as Fast in Smokers
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
MEN'S HEALTH
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Drink Away Dementia?
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Money May Matter, Health-Wise, in Old Age
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Most Women With Osteoporosis Unaware of Raised Fracture Risk
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
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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