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The therapeutic potential of exercise to treat cachexia

Lira, Fábio S.a; Antunes, Barbara de M.M.a; Seelaender, Maríliab; Neto, José C. Rosac

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: December 2015 - Volume 9 - Issue 4 - p 317–324
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000170
CACHEXIA, NUTRITION AND HYDRATION: Edited by Aminah Jatoi and Florian Strasser

Purpose of review To discuss the role of physical exercise in the attenuation of cancer cachexia-associated symptoms, and upon the outcome of chemotherapy, with special focus on the anti-inflammatory role of chronic exercise.

Recent findings The review addresses the recent findings regarding the positive effects of endurance and strength exercise training upon metabolic dysfunction, systemic inflammation and body composition alterations in the syndrome of cachexia. The employment of different exercise protocol strategies, in respect to intensity, duration, work load and in concomitance with pharmacological treatment is considered.

Summary Cachexia is a multifactorial wasting syndrome afflicting patients with cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic heart failure, trauma, among other diseases. This condition markedly compromises the quality of life, treatment outcome and survival. Recent literature indicates an unequivocal role of chronic exercise in modulating cachexia and other cancer-associated dysfunctions. Exercise is proposed as a complementary treatment in cancer, and represents a function-preserving, anti-inflammatory and metabolism-modulating strategy with low cost, and high versatility and availability. Furthermore, exercise decreases cancer recurrence and presents a positive impact on public health management, reducing hospitalization and medication costs.

aExercise and Immunometabolism Research Group, Department of Physical Education, São Paulo State University (UNESP), Presidente Prudente

bDepartment of Surgery, Faculdade de Medicina, Cancer Metabolism Research Group

cImmunometabolism Research Group, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Correspondence to Fábio S. Lira, Exercise and Immunometabolism Research Group, Department of Physical Education, São Paulo State University (UNESP), Rua Roberto Simonsen, 305, 19060–900 Presidente Prudente, SP, Brazil. Tel: +55 18 3229 5826; fax: +55 18 3229 5710; e-mail:

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