To Your Health
January, 2023 (Vol. 17, Issue 01)
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Exercise: Medicine for Cancer

By Editorial Staff

The dreaded "C" word – cancer – lingers in the back of our minds, no matter how healthy we are. That's because while we can reduce the risk that certain cancers will strike, the risk is always there.

Lowering that risk as much as possible – now that's something we can control. Exercise is one proven way to do it. Exercise is so important in the cancer discussion because not only can it help reduce your risk of developing cancer, it can also help if you're diagnosed with cancer – even advanced prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer strikes an estimated 290,000 U.S. men every year, making it the second most common cancer in men, trailing only skin cancer. While age is definitely a factor (nearly 60 percent of prostate cancers are diagnosed at age 65 or older), younger men face a risk, too, especially since prostate cancer often takes years to develop to a diagnosable stage.

Recent research involving men with advanced prostate cancer (metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer, an advanced form of the disease resistant to hormone treatment) suggests exercise – even a single high-intensity interval session – can promote tumor growth suppression. Patients performed a 34-minute high-intensity interval cycling session, with researchers collecting and analyzing bloodwork immediately before the exercise session, as well as immediately after and 30 minutes after.

exercise - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Bloodwork analysis showed that after exercise, production of myokines (a protein linked to tumor suppression) was substantially higher than before exercise. According to the researchers, writing on their findings in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases, the anti-cancer myokines suppressed cancer cell growth by approximately 17 percent.

If you're not suffering from cancer, 17 percent might not sound like a big deal; but if you're fighting advanced prostate cancer, every percentage point counts. As the researchers suggest: "This study provides strong evidence for the recommendation patients with prostate cancer, and likely anybody with any cancer type, should perform exercise most days, if not every day, to maintain a chemical environment within their body which is suppressive of cancer cell proliferation."