Over the past 30 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 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 and conducted cohort follow-ups for each of the case groups. These studies have demonstrated the benefits of physical activity for cancer risk reduction and improved survival after these cancers.

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 year-long aerobic exercise intervention reduced biomarkers associated with breast cancer risk. Dr. Friedenreich then conducted the Breast Cancer and Exercise Trial in Alberta (BETA) that examined the effects of 150 or 300 mins/wk of aerobic exercise on 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 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 1528 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).

Dr Friedenreich co-led a Pan-Canadian team that examined the current and future burden of cancer incidence associated with modifiable lifestyle and environmental risk factors in Canada in collaboration with the Canadian Cancer Society. The ComPARe study provided detailed data that has been summarized in a website and dashboard (www.preventcancer.ca) that is accessible for external knowledge users and decision makers.

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 and for the World Health Organization’s 2020 Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour. 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.

Dr Friedenreich was awarded the O. Harold Warwick Prize from the Canadian Cancer Society in 2013 and elected a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2016 and the Royal Society of Canada in 2019.

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
Cancer Care 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