Over the past 25 years, Dr. Friedenreich has developed a multidisciplinary research program focused on the role of physical activity in the prevention and control of cancer.  Her research program includes observational and experimental studies that are population-based and that include provincial, national and international collaborators. Dr. Friedenreich held a leadership position within Alberta Health Services and helped establish core infrastructure units to support departmental research activities in epidemiology and biostatistics.

Dr. Friedenreich has conducted three population-based case-control studies of lifetime physical activity and cancers of the breast, prostate and endometrium that have used a new questionnaire that she developed, tested and published entitled the Lifetime Total Physical Activity Questionnaire.  She and her colleagues found statistically significant reductions in risk of breast, prostate and endometrial cancers. Cohort follow-ups for each of the case groups have also been conducted: thus far they have found that recreational activity significantly improved survival after breast and prostate cancer. The endometrial cancer cohort study is on-going.

Dr. Friedenreich led the first intervention trial of exercise for breast cancer prevention in Canada, the ALPHA Trial (Alberta Physical Activity and Breast Cancer Prevention Trial).  She and her colleagues found that the exercise intervention reduces endogenous estrogens, decreased insulin resistance, adiposity and inflammation, but had no effect on mammographic density. Dr. Friedenreich then conducted the Breast Cancer and Exercise Trial in Alberta (BETA) that has randomized 400 postmenopausal, healthy, inactive women into a year-long exercise intervention of either 150 or 300 mins/wk of aerobic exercise to determine what level of activity is optimal to impact breast cancer biomarkers. That trial found that higher volumes of aerobic exercise decreased body fat levels and that both moderate and high volume of exercise had beneficial effects on other breast cancer biomarkers.

Dr. Friedenreich is also involved in numerous randomized controlled exercise intervention trials among cancer patients aimed at understanding how exercise may improve well-being, coping, rehabilitation and survival after cancer. She and her colleagues are currently conducting a population-based cohort study of physical activity, health-related fitness and breast cancer survival known as the Alberta Moving Beyond Breast Cancer Cohort Study (AMBER study) in 1500 incident breast cancer cases in Alberta. Dr. Friedenreich is also a co-investigator on the first ever randomized controlled trial of exercise for colon cancer survival being conducted worldwide known as the Colon Health and Lifelong Exercise Trial (CHALLENGE Trial).

The ultimate objective of Dr. Friedenreich’s research program is to provide evidence for improved public health guidelines regarding the exact type, dose and timing of physical activity that is of greatest benefit for reducing cancer risk and improving prognosis and survival after cancer. She has contributed to reviewing the evidence on physical activity and cancer risk and survival for the National Institutes of Health for their Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2018 Report. Her research program has been very active and well-funded with collaborations worldwide for increasingly complex population health research in cancer focused on lifestyle risk factors.

Research Interests

  • Cancer epidemiology
  • Physical activity
  • Biologic mechanisms
  • Lifestyle risk factors
  • Cancer survival

Current Appointments

Scientific Director
Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research
Alberta Health Services
CancerControl Alberta
Calgary, Alberta

Adjunct Professor and Division Head
Depts of Oncology and Community Health Sciences
Cumming School of Medicine
University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta

Associate Scientific Director
O’Brien Institute of Public Health
Cumming School of Medicine
University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta

Adjunct Professor
Faculty of Kinesiology
University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta

Education and Training

  • 1992-1994 Post-Doctoral Fellow, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine. Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 1990-1991 Unit of Analytical Epidemiology, International Agency for Research on Cancer. Lyon, France
  • 1986-1990 PhD, Epidemiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • 1984-1986 MSc, Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  • 1982-1984 Certificate, French Language and Literature, Universite de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 1978-1982 BSc, Life Sciences (Honours), Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada