Exercise has beneficial influence on over 180 genes, including those that repair DNA and suppress tumor growth, and this might lead to prevention or delay of prostate cancer progression, a recent study shows.
The findings of the new study will be presented on Friday at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in San Francisco. These data should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
“There are many reasons to exercise. Here’s yet another great reason to exercise and it may offer a prostate cancer-specific benefit,” said June Chan, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, and urology at the University of California, San Francisco.
Prostate genes from 70 men with low-risk prostate cancer were compared to normal prostate genes from 70 men by Professor Chan’s team.
Researchers discovered a great difference between the expression of the genes in men who did sustained and moderate to hard activities, such as jogging, tennis or swimming for at least three hours a week, compared with genes in men who did less exercise.
Tumor-suppressor genes associated with breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2 and the genes involved in DNA repair were highly expressed in men who did brisk exercise.
An energetic exercise results in benefits for breast cancer and colon cancer patients too.
However, the study was small and the results need to be confirmed by a larger survey on men who are undergoing active surveillance, and men with recurrence of their prostate cancer.
“If confirmed, the results suggest that vigorous physical activity might offer protection against prostate cancer progression,” Professor Chan said.
“This is an interesting, hypothesis-generating study that will require further testing and perhaps opens doors to exercise as part of future prostate cancer treatment, but it’s too soon to tell,” said Dr. Anthony D’Amico, chief of radiation oncology, prostate cancer expert from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
The beneficial effect of exercise in prostate cancer progression was emphasized by another two studies published last year.
Men with prostate cancer who did 3 or more hours a week of brisk exercises had a 60% lower risk of death from prostate cancer, and around 50% lower risk of death from all illnesses, in contrast with the men who did less than one hour per week of energetic physical activity. These results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in February 2011.
Also the men who walked at 3 miles (4.82 km) per hour or faster had about half the risk of cancer progression of the men who walked at two miles (3.21 km) per hour or less, showed a study published in Cancer Research in the May 2011.
“These studies suggested that some form of cardiopulmonary exercise might offer specific benefits for prostate cancer. However, the molecular mechanisms by which physical activity exerts this effect on prostate cancer remains unknown, ” Professor Chan said.