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Vol. LVIII, No. 10
May 19, 2006

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Study Needs Volunteers at Increased Breast Cancer Risk

Dr. Jennifer Eng-Wong, a medical oncologist at NCI, recently began a study exploring whether exercise can affect a person’s risk of developing different types of cancer.  
In order to reduce the risk of breast cancer, you might want to hit the gym, or simply walk a few more steps every day. Numerous studies suggest that people who exercise are less likely to get breast cancer. That's why the National Cancer Institute is conducting a study to see the effect that exercise has on inactive women who are at risk of getting the disease.

Based on recent evidence that exercise can affect a person's risk of developing different types of cancer, Dr. Jennifer Eng-Wong, a medical oncologist at NCI, recently began a study to find out more. Eng-Wong is looking for women between the ages of 18 and 75 who do not exercise regularly and are at high risk for breast cancer or have survived breast cancer to participate in the 12-week study.

Eng-Wong said the study is different from previous studies in that it asks volunteers to perform the exercise on their own and work it into their daily lives.

In the first phase of the study, participants are asked to wear an electronic pedometer to measure the amount of walking they do in a week. At the end of the first week, if the pedometer shows that the participant's physical activity is less than approximately 30 minutes of exercise per day, she will most likely qualify for the second phase of the study, in which women are instructed to take at least 10,000 steps a week.

At the beginning and end of the study, doctors take routine fitness measurements like weight and body fat percentage, and also measure the women's hormone levels. Women who have higher levels of two hormones in particular, estradiol and IGF-1, have been found to be at a higher risk for breast cancer. If the results show that exercising can lower those hormone levels, it could offer a clue as to how to prevent breast cancer.

"I think the question in this study is can we get sedentary women at increased risk for breast cancer to increase their physical activity. That's really the primary goal. And then, following that, we are trying to get a sense of the mechanism of how exercise might decrease the risk for breast cancer," Eng-Wong said.

Other qualifications for the study may include: women who have had breast cancer and are currently cancer-free; women who have had an abnormal breast biopsy; or women who have a family history of breast cancer. Study-related tests are provided at no cost.

For more information contact Eng-Wong at (301) 496-5320,, or Tyane Calhoun, (301) 402-0998,