Moderate exercise makes cancer tumours less aggressive and even improves cancer treatments according to research from Kansas State University; it is not just oxygenating – exercise is a powerful anti-cancer drug.
Brad Behnke, Professor of Exercise Physiology and fellow researchers have shown that moderate exercise on a regular basis helps to oxygenate tumours making them less aggressive and also more sensitive to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Their definition of ‘moderate exercise’ was a brisk walk or a slow jog – enough to get you puffed!
The latest study followed people with prostate cancer and was aimed at understanding more about ‘how’ exercise helped. Researchers made three conclusions:
* Firstly, tumours have hypoxic pockets and dysfunctional vascular systems preventing oxygen entering. And when tumours have low oxygen they are more aggressive.
However, exercise manipulates the various body systems – heart, lungs, blood vessels and hormones, increasing correct blood flow to the tissue and oxygenation. Then the tumours become less aggressive.
* Secondly, such oxygenation pre-sensitises the cancer cells and makes them MORE sensitive to cancer drugs and radiotherapy.
* Thirdly, exercise can actually counter some of the side-effects of orthodox treatment such as fatigue, low blood count, lost muscle mass and even cachexia.
Get out of breath
Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and a founder of UK Charity CANCERactive commented, “ Exercise is an important ingredient of the Rainbow Diet – the colourful Mediterranean Diet. It’s a Lifestyle rather than a diet really. Traditionally, people living in rural communities where hills are common, end to move more and sit less. And this provides one clue to better health.
The key is MODERATE exercise. When I help people build effective Personal Programmes to fight their cancer, I always suggest that exercise is an important factor. But not ‘going for the burn’, or running big miles every day. This can be counter-productive because with high levels of exercise, high levels of free-radicals can be produced and body systems shut down – including the vascular system to tumours.
Equally, no-exercise is a problem too.
The researchers in this study showed that people should be using 30-60% of their aerobic capacity. I always tell people to ´GET PUFFED´ – speed walk, and after 20 minutes take on an up-hill stretch for15 minutes. Do 45 – 60 minutes overall. Even those for whom chronic fatigue is a problem, are proven to benefit. Just take your first steps.
The research was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Woollams added, “Behnke and others have also shown the power of exercise and consequent oxygenation to enhance radiotherapy.
Exercise isn’t just oxygenating; it produces anti-cancer hormones too – they are called endorphins and neutralise stress homone cortisol. Exercise is a powerful drug. The key is to introduce more movement into your life and avoid sitting still for more than 90 minutes at a time”.