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Exercise and Green Tea May Help Breast Cancer Survivors Beat the Blues

Exercising and drinking green tea may help prevent depression among breast cancer survivors, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.[1]

Depression is a major concern among breast cancer patients and survivors. Some estimates report that the prevalence of depression in this population is as high as 55%.[2] Depression can reduce quality of life and also potentially affect survival.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University conducted a study to determine whether lifestyle factors prevented depression among breast cancer survivors. They analyzed activity levels; food, tea, and alcohol consumption; smoking; and supplement use among 1,399 Chinese women who were treated for breast cancer in Shanghai, China, between 2002 and 2006.

Eighteen months post-diagnosis, 26% of women experienced depressive symptoms and 13% met the criteria for clinical depression. Women appeared to benefit from regular exercise—exercisers were 20% less likely to be mildly or clinically depressed. Furthermore, the higher the exercise level, the lower the likelihood was for depression. When compared with non-exercising women, those who exercised two hours per week were 28% less likely to be depressed, and those who exercised more than that were 42% less likely to be depressed.

Regular consumption of green tea also appeared to reduce the risk of depression. Among the 183 women who drank tea, the risk of depression was about 36% lower compared with the non-tea drinkers. The majority of tea drinkers (90%) reported drinking green tea.

The researchers concluded that regular exercise and tea consumption could help prevent depression among breast cancer survivors.

References:

[1] Chen X, Lu W, Zheng Y, et al. Exercise, tea consumption, and depression among breast cancer survivors. Journal of Clinical Oncology [early online publication]. January 4, 2010.

[2] Burgess C, Cornelius V, Love S, et al. Depression and anxiety in women with early breast cancer: Five year observational cohort study. British Medical Journal. 2005; 330: 702.