Image source: Fitbit

Fitbit trackers to be used in important health study

A new study that investigates the impact of weight loss on breast cancer recurrence will be using Fitbit trackers to help participants track their progress towards their weight loss goals. Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute will begin enrolling volunteer participants on August 1, 2016 for the six year long study.

Breast cancer is the most common invasive cancer in females worldwide. It accounts for 16% of all female cancers and 22.9% of invasive cancers in women. 18.2% of all cancer deaths worldwide, including both males and females, are from breast cancer.

The Breast Cancer Weight Loss (BWEL) study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, will enrol over 3,000 overweight women who are in the early stage of cancer, to see if losing weight can help prevent the disease from returning. Patients in the weight loss group will work with a health coach over the phone to help them increase their exercise and reduce calories.

“The increased risk of cancer recurrence linked to excess body weight threatens to limit our progress in treating breast cancer and preventing women from dying from this disease,” says Jennifer Ligibel, MD, a breast oncologist in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber, and lead investigator of the BWEL trial.

“If this study shows that losing weight through increasing physical activity and reducing calories improves survival rates in breast cancer, this could lead to weight loss and physical activity becoming a standard part of the treatment for millions of breast cancer patients around the world.”

Fitbit Charge HR and the Aria Wi-Fi scale are being provided to help patients track progress throughout the study and help them to stay motivated to meet their goals.

Although released some two years ago, Fitbit Charge HR is still one of the best value-for-money fitness trackers you can buy today. Fitbit likes to think of the Charge for everyday users who want to get fitter and see how they are doing in real time on the wristband and also via the excellent free app and graphics-heavy desktop dashboard.

The Fitbit Aria is one of the most popular smart scales on the market. It measures weight, BMI and body fat. There is also multi user support and recognition, and you can set weight goals with a daily calorie plan, log food and other workouts. And it comes with a free iOS and Android app.

“We’re honored that researchers have chosen to use Fitbit devices for this much-needed research,” says Woody Scal, chief business officer of Fitbit.

“We hear stories every day about how our products have helped motivate people to be more proactive with their health by being more active, eating smarter, sleeping better, and managing their weight—all of which are so important in preventive health.”

Essential reading: Choosing the right Fitbit tracker

Earlier this year, MobiHealthNews estimated that there are over 20 in-progress clinical trials using Fitbit activity trackers. The trials deal with a wide range of health conditions including diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis and arthritis. Its not really surprising to see researchers tap into the wealth of data produced by activity trackers, as they are reasonably accurate, user friendly and inexpensive.

It seems that Fitbit devices are one of the most popular and high profile not only with consumers, but also with medical researchers.

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