Researcher Spotlight – Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD

Physical activity is associated with improved survival of breast cancer at any age, which may be due, in part, to its effects on weight. Dr. McTiernan and others from the University of Washington, have shown that weight loss has significant, long-term effects on biological factors linked to breast cancer risk. However, exercise may reduce risk in other ways beyond weight loss. Dr. McTiernan’s work suggests that some of its biological effects are greatest in the hours after a workout. She is currently studying the acute effects of exercise on biomarkers of breast cancer risk in participants of varying body types and fitness levels, the results of which may be informative in assessing risk and developing prevention interventions. She and her team launched the ACute Effects of Exercise in Women (ACE) trial, the first-ever clinical trial to test the immediate effects of exercise on markers related to breast cancer in healthy women. If the markers are significantly altered, it could help support guidelines for daily exercise and breast cancer prevention—and it may indicate that exercise even without weight loss is beneficial. For complete details on her project, visit