Tai Chi for the Aging Cancer Survivors
October 15, 2014 -
Currently there are more than 13.7 million
cancer survivors living in the U.S., and that figure is projected to increase by
31% in the next decade, adding another 4 million cancer survivors into the
healthcare system. Cancer is largely a disease of aging, and the aging of the
population will sharply raise the proportion of older cancer survivors, many of
whom will be long-term survivors (5+ years post diagnosis).
Oregon Health & Science University is
conducting a review to address the potential utility of exercise to address
three health problems that are of particular concern for the aging cancer
survivor and the healthcare system, i.e., disability, falls, and cardiovascular
disease, because the development of these age-related problems may be
accelerated by cancer treatment.
While there are many different modes of
exercise that each produce specific adaptations, Tai Chi
may be a particularly suitable strategy to mitigate the development of age- and
cancer-treatment-related problems. Based on studies in older adults without
Chi produces musculoskeletal and cardio-metabolic adaptations and is more
easily performed by older adults due to its low energy cost and slower movement
patterns. Since cancer survivors are mostly older, inactive, and often
physically limited by the lingering side effects of treatment, they need to
engage in safe, practical, and effective modes of exercise.
There have been so many published
controlled trials examining the efficacy of Tai Chi to mitigate cancer-treatment-related
musculoskeletal and cardiovascular side effects that ample research
opportunities exist to explore the application of this non-Western exercise
modality to improve long-term outcomes for aging cancer survivors.