Premenopausal Breast Cancer: Telomeres and Exercise for Health

Principal Investigator:
Ingrid Oakley-Girvan, Ph.D.
Sharon Pitteri, Ph.D. (Stanford University), Judith Luce, M.D. (University of California, San Francisco), Joan Bloom, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley), Susan Stewart, Ph.D. (University of California, Davis), Deborah Sellmeyer, M.D. (Johns Hopkins University)
Funding Source:
Stanford Cancer Institute
Funding Period:
Study Website:
Premenopausal breast cancer survival varies by race/ethnicity, histologic subtype and tumor expression status. Less clear are the causes of these survival differences and how the immune system might be involved. The ends of chromosomes have variable lengths called telomeres. Telomeres are composed of nucleotide repeats and complex protein structures. They maintain genomic stability and shorten as we age. Telomere length is also thought to be a marker of immune system function and may be important for survival after a cancer diagnosis. Premenopausal breast cancer patients are more likely to be treated with chemotherapy that may reduce telomere length. In turn, decreased telomere lengths in white blood cells may reduce lifespan and accelerate the chance of second cancers or other late-effects and comorbidities. As exercise has many known and measurable health benefits, we will compare telomere lengths in breast cancer survivors before and after an exercise intervention.

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