Men: Halt the Spread of Prostate Cancer with Exercise

Healthnotes Newswire (February 1, 2007)—Good news for the many men who receive a prostate cancer diagnosis: a new study suggests that the advanced and more serious form of the disease might be preventable through exercise.

Exercise, an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, prevents and treats a wide range of chronic diseases including depression, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Evidence shows that exercise can help prevent some cancers, including breast and colon cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States and is especially common in older men. Because it is typically slow-growing, most elderly men with prostate cancer die of other causes. But in some cases—particularly when it occurs in younger men—the cancer advances, spreading (metastasizing) to the bones and sometimes to other parts of the body.

A number of studies suggest that men can prevent prostate cancer by eating less meat (especially blackened and cured meat) and eating more soy foods, tomatoes, vegetables (especially cruciferous vegetables like broccoli), and fish. Several studies have looked at the effect of exercise on prostate cancer risk but their results are conflicting.

In the newest study, performed in Norway and published in the International Journal of Cancer, more than 29,000 men classified their recreational exercise level as none, low, medium, or high.

During 17 years of follow-up, the overall incidence of prostate cancer was determined to be the same in all the men regardless of how often they exercised. The difference was seen in the incidence of advanced, or metastatic, prostate cancer: men who exercised the most had a 36% lower risk of having metastatic prostate cancer than men who did not exercise. Even a single weekly session of exercise reduced the risk by about 30%. Exercise was also linked to a lower likelihood of death from prostate cancer.

Two other recent studies similarly found that, although exercise did not prevent prostate cancer, it did keep it from advancing. The results of the current study help to confirm the relationship between exercise and lower risk of metastatic prostate cancer, and suggest that similar research might be useful in evaluating the importance of exercise in preventing and managing other cancers.

“This study further supports the recommendations many of us already make to our cancer patients,” commented Letha Mills, and oncologist at Mount Ascutney Hospital in Vermont. “Clearly we need to pay attention to the strength and vitality of a body that is facing cancer, even—maybe especially—when conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy are being used.”

(Int J Cancer 2006;119:2943–7)

Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

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