Exercise is medicine for cancer, even in late stages

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In a study from Edith Cowan University, scientists found how critically important exercise can be—even for people with advanced cancer.

Previous work has shown men with advanced prostate cancer can change the chemical environment of their body over six months of exercise training to suppress the growth of cancer cells.

The researchers found increased levels of proteins called “myokines” which are produced by skeletal muscles and can suppress tumor growth and even help actively fight cancerous cells by stimulating a range of anti-cancer processes in the body.

In the current study, the team found a single bout of exercise can elevate myokines even further and induce additional cancer suppression.

Importantly, this exercise-induced effect occurs in patients with incurable, advanced cancer where the disease has well and truly taken hold and patients have already received extensive treatment over many years.

The team examined 9 patients with late-stage prostate cancer and performed 34 minutes of high-intensity exercise on a stationary cycle, with blood serum collected immediately before and after, and then again 30 minutes post-workout.

They found the serum obtained immediately after this session of exercise contained elevated levels of anti-cancer myokines resulting in suppressed growth of prostate cancer cells in vitro by about 17%.

Serum myokine levels and cancer suppression returned to baseline after 30 minutes.

The team says it was a breakthrough moment in exercise oncology.

The findings are particularly exciting because we report for the first time ever that men with advanced prostate cancer are able to produce an acute elevation in anti-cancer molecules called myokines in response to a single bout of vigorous exercise.

This is helping researchers to understand why patients with cancer who exercise exhibit slower disease progression and survive for longer.

The team says while there is much research still to be done, the results of this study could help shape the advice given to cancer patients immediately.

The optimal dose of exercise is not yet known, but it is likely to be 20-plus minutes each day and must include resistance training to grow the muscles, increase the size and capacity of the internal pharmacy, and stimulate myokine production.

This study provides strong evidence for the recommendation of 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 that is suppressive of cancer cell proliferation.

If you care about cancer, please read studies about how drinking milk affects the risks of heart disease and cancer, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

The study was conducted by Professor Rob Newton et al and published in Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.

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