AKTIV AGAINST Cancer receives funding from the Kavli Trust

Oslo, Norway - September 27, 2016 - Marathon queen Grete Waitz was the impetus for physical activity as part of cancer treatment, and helped establish the foundation AKTIV Against Cancer. Now the treatment method might get its breakthrough in the U.S.

It is a donation of $650,000 U.S. dollars from the Kavli Trust that enables the foundation AKTIV Against Cancer the opportunity to support a research project that has until now yielded promising signals.

Mouse experiments have shown that the growth rate of certain tumors is reduced by physical activity as much as with chemotherapy, and in that the combination of physical activity and a cytotoxic agent shows more effective than chemotherapy alone. This can provide an indication that physical activity not only contributes to improved quality of life for cancer patients, but that it also can be real medicine against the cancer itself, says Helle Aanesen, CEO of AKTIV Against Cancer. 

Using the donation from the Kavli Trust, one of the world’s leading cancer research centers can now continue the important work that has begun, and hopefully establish physical activity as a part of cancer treatment also outside Norway, she says.

AKTIV Against Cancer was established by Aanesen and the late Grete Waitz in 2007 – two years after Waitz was diagnosed with cancer – and has consistently worked to give physical activity its place in cancer treatment.

In Norway, this has resulted in gyms with associated expertise, so-called Breathing Rooms, at 13 hospitals treating cancer patients. The aim is, according to Aanesen, that all cancer hospitals in the country will get such an offer, which has gained recognition in the Norwegian cancer community.

Experiences with the existing Breathing Rooms resulted in the foundation contacting the renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York, with the goal of establishing a similar offer there. 

The doctors thought the offer was sublime, but knew they wouldn’t get enough space in the hospital before there was enough research on the importance for patients. We were therefore encouraged to support their research work, and now we get the opportunity to do just that, rejoices Aanesen.

This week she travels to New York, where AKTIV Against Cancer on Wednesday has been invited to the Norwegian Consulate General as guests of honor in connection to the important work which now begins. Minister of Health Bent Høie will also be present, together with American researchers, and representatives from the Standing Committee on Health and Care Services.  

Grete Waitz is highly regarded in the United States, especially in New York as a result of her performances in the New York City Marathon. She is by far the most winning athlete in the race’s history, with her nine victories.

– When we hopefully get Breathing Rooms established in the U.S. for the long term, we might want to call them Grete Waitz Fitness Centers. It would have been a great legacy and honor of Grete, says Aanesen.

The support from the the Kavli Trust will specifically be used to strengthen the field exercise-oncology, under the leadership of Dr. Lee Jones, and the aim of the project is to determine which tumors are influenced by physical activity in patients. Dr. Jones has already published a lot of research on physical activity as a type of cancer treatment, and has, according to Aanesen, no plans to discontinue until it’s been found out enough to be able to give patients a prescription of specific physical activity, on an equal footing as one gives out prescription medications

Aanesen says that the sister foundation AKTIV Against Cancer these days also enters into a comprehensive agreement with the MSKCC in the same research area.

Together we thus become a major contributor to one of the world’s best cancer hospitals and communities on physical activity and cancer, says Aanesen.

Furthermore, she says that the donation from the Kavli Trust not exclusively goes to MSKCC, but that there is also being established a research grant for the good of Norwegian researchers and the research community as a whole. Aanesen has high hopes for what it might lead to.

My dream is that we, as a result of this, will get to establish a competency center on physical activity and cancer in Norway.

The charitable foundation Kavli Trust, which annually distributes profits from Kavli and Q-Meieriene to, among others, research projects, are also excited about what the research could mean for future cancer treatment.

The results of the research on physical activity as a type of treatment, has so far shown positive signals. If we can help facilitate that cancer patients in the future can get better treatment, that would be absolutely amazing, says Inger Elise Iversen, CEO of Kavli Trust.

About AKTIV Against Cancer:

AKTIV Against Cancer is a private foundation established by Helle Aanesen and Grete Waitz in 2007. The foundation’s goal is to promote physical activity as part of cancer treatment. Therefore, we establish fitness rooms, or Breathing Rooms, as we call them, in cancer hospitals in Norway. We do this because research shows that physical activity can be positive for the vast majority of cancer patients – both during and after treatment. Physical activity can help reduce unwanted side effects and increase endurance, strength and energy. But most importantly, it helps build a sense of empowerment and improve quality of life.

Through fitness concepts for the corporate and private market, we give the participants the opportunity to contribute to a good cause, while improving their own health. We hence generate revenue through physical activity for healthy people and use it on physical activity for cancer. The foundation also supports research on the effect of physical activity for cancer patients in Norway and abroad.

During the period 2008-2015, the foundation AKTIV Against Cancer contributed more than 100 million NOK (12 million U.S. dollars) to Breathing Rooms, educating AKTIV instructors, research and PET/CT scanners.