Cancer treatment–induced bone loss is an important long-term effect in breast cancer survivors, but evidence regarding lifestyle interventions for preventing cancer treatment–induced bone loss is lacking.
The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility, safety, and effects of a 6-month combined home-based exercise and calcium and vitamin D supplements (EX + SUPP) intervention compared with calcium and vitamin D supplements alone (SUPP) on bone health of osteopenic breast cancer survivors.
In this pilot randomized controlled trial, we enrolled 43 women with breast cancer who were diagnosed as osteopenic through bone mineral density screening. Women were randomly assigned to the EX + SUPP group (n = 23) or the SUPP group (n = 20).
The rates of participant retention (90.7%) and of counseling calls delivered to the EX + SUPP group (90.3%) were high. The average exercise adherence rate was 69.5% for weight-bearing exercise and 48.5% for resistance exercise. The EX + SUPP group reported no injuries or adverse events. Despite positive findings of adherence and safety, no significant group differences were observed for bone mineral density, bone turnover marker, or physical performance.
A home-based exercise program for bone health among osteopenic breast cancer survivors is feasible and safe. There was no significant additive effect of exercise on bone outcomes under the conditions studied, however, suggesting the need for a larger trial.
Implications for Practice:
Effective exercise intervention may require more intensive components such as higher loading forces and longer duration for improving bone health among this population.