December 08, 2013
New research at Duke University is studying how exercise might be used during and after cancer treatment.
Oliver Glass is a former CrossFit Games athlete, qualifying on the CrossFit Local team in 2010 and the CrossFit Raleigh team in 2011. He currently trains at CrossFit Raleigh in North Carolina in the evenings. In the daytime, he’s a cancer researcher.
“I’ve been doing CrossFit competitively for five years,” Glass says. “I’ve been doing cancer research since 2001. I know CrossFit has done so much for my life, and along the way I’ve met so many people that have been dealing with cancer treatment and finding CrossFit. They’ve done so well, and I thought, ‘There’s a conversation I’d like to start.’”
While working on vaccines for breast cancer at Duke in 2008, Glass found the work of Dr. Lee Jones, who was beginning to study the clinical use of exercise on cancer patients. Jones’ work has been published in the scientific press and widely cited by popular media since 2008. While other cancer researchers were focusing on important drugs and delivery systems, Jones wondered if exercise could help a patient absorb the drugs better or survive longer after chemotherapy.
To date, research has largely focused on the remediation of problems caused by cancer treatments, and no one knows how soon is too soon to start exercising after a cancer diagnosis. Similarly, no one knows whether exercising during cancer treatment is helpful, harmful or neutral.
“Right now we’ve been using therapies for cardio diseases in cancer patients,” Glass said. “But in the future it may be proven that mixed-modal training, like CrossFit, elicits the greatest effects. We just don’t know yet.”