November 26, 2014
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Cancer

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Study: Exercise slows prostate cancer

If you want to lower your risk of dying from prostate cancer, it's time to get moving. A study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine found vigorous exercise - and lots of it - can help slow the progression of prostate cancer in older men.

Researchers tracked a total of more than 47,000 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study over a 14-year period. During that period, 2,892 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, including 482 advanced cases. Of those, 280 men died of prostate cancer.

Participants in the study were asked to report the amount of time they spent per week, on average, engaging in such vigorous activities as bicycling, hiking, jogging, playing tennis or racquetball, swimming laps and, other such exercise, as well as the amount of time they spent on non-vigorous exercise such as walking and climbing stairs.

While the researchers found no link in the overall study population between prostate cancer risk and total exercise, they did find an association in men above the age of 65 who engaged in three or more hours per week of vigorous exercise. In fact, these men face a 67% lower risk of being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and a 74% lower risk of dying of prostate cancer than their less active counterparts. Younger men did not share this association.

"Although the mechanisms are not yet understood, these findings suggest that regular vigorous activity could slow the progression of prostate cancer and might be recommended to reduce mortality from prostate cancer, particularly given the many other documented benefits of exercise," the researchers write.

Other research is also pointing to the benefits of exercise for colon cancer survivors. In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, researchers looked at the effects of physical activity on more than 800 people who were still alive a year after undergoing surgery and chemotherapy to treat colon cancer.

Participants were asked to complete surveys detailing their physical activity, including type of exercise, duration, and intensity. More than two years after completing chemotherapy, participants who reported the most exercise - 3 to 4 hours a week of jogging or a daily brisk walk at a speed of about 5 to 6 km per hour - were 35% less likely than the least active participants to have their cancer come back.

Earlier studies have pointed to the benefits of exercise for decreasing the risk of developing colon cancer in the first place, but this is the first study to show its effect on people who have already undergone treatment, the researchers said.

Consult your doctor before beginning any new or strenuous exercise routine.


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