Study found men who exercised most had the best outcomes
A moderate or intense exercise program may improve a man’s odds of prostate cancer survival, according to a new study.
The study, from the American Cancer Society, analyzed more than 10,000 men, aged 50 to 93, who were diagnosed between 1992 and 2011 with localized prostate cancer (meaning it had not spread beyond the prostate gland). The men reported information about their physical activity before and after their diagnosis.
Unsurprisingly, participants with the highest levels of exercise prior to diagnosis were 30 percent less likely to die of their prostate cancer than those who exercised the least, according to a team led by Ying Wang, senior epidemiologist at the ACS’s epidemiology research program.
Even better: The more the men exercised the bigger the benefit. Men with the highest levels of exercise after diagnosis were 34 percent less likely to die of prostate cancer than those who did the least exercise, the study found.
Though the study didn’t prove cause-and-effect, “our results support evidence that prostate cancer survivors should adhere to physical activity guidelines, and suggest that physicians should consider promoting a physically active lifestyle to their prostate cancer patients,” Wang said.
The researchers also studied the effects of walking as the sole form of exercise and found that walking for four to six hours a week before diagnosis was also associated with a one-third lower risk of death from prostate cancer. But timing was crucial, since walking after a diagnosis was not associated with a statistically significant lower risk of death.
“The American Cancer Society recommends adults engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week,” Wang said. “These results indicate that following these guidelines might be associated with better prognosis.”
Experts aren’t surprised by the findings. Physical activity benefits all aspects of health, and this study reinforces that a healthy lifestyle, including exercise, is an aspect of post-cancer outcome patients can control.
The study also confirms what a growing body of evidence has found: Regular exercise is associated with better outcomes for several forms of cancer—including breast, colon, lung and prostate—as well as improving cardiovascular health, quality of life and an overall ability to fight disease.
For reasons we don’t quite understand, incidence rates of prostate cancer are significantly higher in African-American men than in men of other races. In fact, African-American men may have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world. And our men are more than twice as likely to die of the disease as white men in this country.