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Is exercise an effective cancer therapy?

Is exercise an effective cance...
Exercise may be as effective as medication, as a means of treating cancer
Exercise may be as effective as medication, as a means of treating cancer
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Exercise may be as effective as medication, as a means of treating cancer
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Exercise may be as effective as medication, as a means of treating cancer

While it's well-known that regular exercise can help you avoid getting cancer in the first place, researchers now believe that it could also be useful in actually combating the disease. An upcoming study led by University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) researchers aims to provide a more concrete answer to the question – can exercise really help fight cancer?

Not getting enough regular exercise can have a big negative impact on health. According to Cancer Research UK, lack of exercise played a role in more than five million deaths globally in 2008, and as many as 3,400 cancer cases in the UK in 2011 were strongly linked to low physical activity.

On the other hand, studies have found that exercise can lower your risk of developing bowel cancer by a quarter, womb cancer by 30 percent, and breast cancer by 12 percent. Furthermore, a large-scale study in the US confirmed that exercise even increases life expectancy.

Really though, the news that exercise is good for you, and that being physically fitter can help fight of dangerous diseases, is unlikely to come as that much of a shock. What's more intriguing is the idea that it could actually be used as a key treatment in fighting cancer. According to CRCHUM researchers, it's possible that it could even be as effective as medication.

Of course, we need solid evidence to back up that claim, and that's exactly what the new study aims to obtain. The large-scale trial, which has already started in Ireland and Australia, will see some 60 hospitals across the globe recruit patients. All in, some 900 men with advanced prostate cancer will participate.

During the course of the work, the participants will continue to receive their usual cancer therapies and medication. However, while half will receive some recommendations of physical exercise to complete during the course of treatment, the other half will follow a high-intensity exercise program throughout.

Specifically, they'll complete a specially designed strength and cardiovascular training program, consisting of one hour of aerobic and resistance training three times per week. They'll be directly supervised for the first year to ensure that they're properly completing the work.

Doctors will take blood samples and conduct muscle biopsies in order to assess how the two groups are progressing. On a basic level, it's hoped that the increased exercise will help strengthen patient muscles and bones, lowering the occurrence of complications related to metastases, such as fractures.

On a deeper level, the researchers hope to find evidence that exercise has a more direct impact on the progression of the disease, past just helping patients better tolerate therapy. We'll have to wait a little while to find out for sure whether exercise can truly help fight cancer, with full results expected in around five years.

Further details of the study will be presented by CRCHUM's Dr. Fred Saad at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago next month.

Source: CRCHUM

7 comments
7 comments
Stradric
The ketogenic diet is also another possible non-medicinal treatment for cancer: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3702200/
Belinda Contague
Sorry. No. Exercise won't save you. I've exercised every day of my friggin' life and I'm working on my 4th cancer. There is no cure. They can either cut it out of you or try to kill it with deadly poisons before it spreads and kills you first. It might help you withstand chemo if you're strong going in but that's iffy. Good luck.
Daishi
Exercise doesn't make you immune to getting cancer but it does reduce the risk. Studies have confirmed and reconfirmed that sedentary lifestyles aren't healthy and that exercise is good for you. In the US building YMCA's in more communities would probably pay for themselves later in savings on health care costs if not then in reduction in crime as kids have somewhere to be that isn't on the streets causing trouble.
I lived in a small east coast town that had 6-7 churches, some of which were huge taking up a whole block but there was one small gym outside of town that closed at 6 PM every day. Nearly everyone over 25 was obese. Everyone gets together on Sundays at sits around pondering why "kids these days" are into drugs and video games but what else are they supposed to be doing?
A company had a basketball hoop put up in their parking lot for employees to use and some teenagers started using it late at night on weekends? What does the company do? Be glad they could give something back to the community? Nope. They tore down the hoop because it was that or hire a security guard to stop people from using it.
If teens are playing basketball at 2 AM on weekends instead of drinking or drugs it should be considered a good thing. Some of the same people involved in deciding to tear down the basketball hoop probably went to church the following sunday and said "Why don't kids these days do something besides video games and drugs?"
I think pretty much every community should have access to a 24/7 fitness/activity center. The places I have seen YMCA's built they are so popular parking is hard to find near them.
The data supporting the benefits of having access to fitness centers is so overwhelming the fact that it isn't a major priority in every community without one is a failure of government.
Funding healthier lifestyles is literally cheaper to do than than not.
habakak
Daishi, so true. I can't agree more. It is a miserable failure of society. An ounce of prevention. Active kids mostly turn into active adults. And most active people tend to be more healthy.
raterry@fedex.com
one of the issues with testing for the relevance of exercise in a fairly narrow window is that it makes no provision for habits and exercise prior to the event and testing. Resistance training affects bone density glacially compared to the rest of the body .. The sample size is usually very small and the control group as well .. to the degree that the conclusion must be so general as to be so non-definitive as to be less than useful. As well genetic predisposition is a huge part of whether someone is vulnerable to specific types of cancers.. We know that certain types "run in the family" and then are also affected by personal habits. If cancer is an aberrant cell growth .. as it seems to be, then you also have to account for environmental stimulus.. Air, water contaminants, radiations.. passive and aggressive.. medications for other treatments.. and more that we don't know could be triggers. In short you would need to follow a huge group nearly their entire lives with complete medical, and geographic history and genetic make up to say much that is definitive if anything at all. It is very daunting .. I suspect genetic profiles and retroviruses have promise.. to re or de program cells.. but it's dangerous. Over all though as has been said already . A healthy life style of regular exercise (3 days is laughable BTW), with fresh foods and chemical free fluids would go a very long way to helping to reduce the number of possible triggers. I also believe that is is not societies duty to provide facilities for access to exercise but communities.. Educate and advocate exercise and you will vote in people who will use your money locally to provide needed services. I have and will exercise all of my life.. on my money as a choice.. everyone has that choice.. They also should be responsible for the outcome of their own choices. IMO
Grunchy
These statistical-based studies leave a lot to be desired. The doctors (may) have indicated a bias, specifically "researchers hope to find evidence that exercise has a more direct impact on the progression of the disease". But Even So - there is enough known about the benefits of exercise that people can have fairly good confidence that exercise is of net benefit. I had a "on again, off again" kind of attitude about exercise, which I have amended lately to be mostly toward the "on again" end of the spectrum. I think it's a mindset that certain people, such as myself, are more likely to develop as they grow older.
UFOBill
Lemon Juice is very effective and so is the (MMS)"Miracle Mineral Supplement"...which has saved 100s of life's around the World, and easy to acquire!!!