Exercise benefits prostate cancer patients



In 2009, 192,280 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the US. In the same year, 27,360 men died from the disease, according the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Next to lung cancer, prostate cancer is the second cause of cancer mortality in men.

NCI defines prostate cancer as

“…cancer that forms in tissues of the prostate (a gland in the male reproductive system found below the bladder and in front of the rectum).”

Like most cancer treatments, treatments for prostate cancer bring some side effects, some of them quite severe. Which is why the motivation for physical movement is rather low among cancer patients before and after treatment. A recent study, however, indicates that even a little bit of exercise can go a long way in improving your prognosis.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health followed up 2,686 patients with prostate cancer who were part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study which spanned more than two decades (1986-2008). The patients’ physical activity was assessed before and after cancer treatment.

The results of the study showed that:

  • Engaging in vigorous exercise such as jogging, biking, swimming, or playing tennis for 30 minutes a week lowers the risk of death from any cause by 35%.
  • Walking 4 or more hours a week lowers the risk by 23%.
  • Power walking (brisk walk for 90 minutes a day) decreases the risk by 51%.

According to lead author Dr.  Stacey A. Kenfield, epidemiology research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“We saw benefits at very attainable levels of activity. The results suggest that men with prostate cancer should do some physical activity for their overall health…How these factors may work together to affect prostate cancer biologically is still being studied. For now, our data indicate that for prostate cancer survivors, a moderate amount of regular exercise may improve overall survival, while 5 or more hours per week of vigorous exercise may decrease the death rate due to prostate cancer specifically.

The study results showed that the more intensive and the longer the duration of the physical activity, the greater are the benefits for the cancer patients. Aside from improving the survival rate, it also helps in reducing the long-lasting side effects of cancer treatment such as chronic fatigue, anxiety and depression. It improves cardiovascular health, musculoskeletal health, and overall well-being.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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