Research shows exercise helps keep cancer in remission

A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine has revealed that cancer survivors (CS) may gain significant benefits from undergoing physical activity (PA). However, the optimal dose of physical activity remains unclear due to a variety of reasons including types of cancer, illness stages and treatments, low cardiorespiratory fitness and physical inactivity.

In line with this, a team of researchers enrolled 152 inactive CS in order to identify and develop exercise prescription guidelines for the patient population. The scientists then instructed the patients to perform a cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET). Data on the patients’ peak oxygen uptake, ventilatory threshold, and respiratory compensation point were used to identify three exercise intensity zones to create exercise intensity classification guidelines for CS.

The results show that CS had lower than estimated values for peak heart rate and peak oxygen uptake. The findings also reveal that moderate intensity zone for CS is different from the current exercise guidelines for a healthy population. The research team also observed that exercise intensity guidelines for healthy populations are not applied to CS. The experts stress that specific exercise guidelines should be used in CS in order to optimize the beneficial effects of physical activities in patients.

“These data suggest that intensities in PA guidelines for healthy population are not adjusted to the characteristics of CS. For individual exercise prescription in CS, when there is no availability for performing a CPET, specific PA guidelines for CS should be used in order to maximize the benefits obtainable by the use of aerobic exercise training. Furthermore, exercise program should be initiated as early as possible after the cancer diagnosis to improve their quality of life,” the researchers conclude in Research Gate online.

More studies show that exercise may thwart cancer relapse

A number of studies have previously demonstrated that engaging in physical activity may lower the odds of cancer recurrence. For instance, a study of 144 women with ovarian cancer has revealed that those who underwent 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week for six months exhibited a marked reduction in the levels of hormones associated with tumor growth compared with those who did not exercise.

Another study of 221 women with breast cancer has shown that those who lost weight through dieting have displayed a significant decline in hormones that promote tumor growth. (Related: Exercise helps to prevent cancer, fight it, and ward off relapse: studies.)

“We found a strong connection between exercise after diagnosis and mortality afterwards. Most interestingly, it showed the impact on changes in activity on mortality – even if you’ve never been active before taking regular exercise seemed to show a great impact. They show that losing weight and taking up exercise have a significant effect on the biomarkers of cancer. They are showing that it’s causal – that by changing activity or weight loss it could improve your prognosis. This is crucial,” says Prof. Melinda Irwin, associate director at Yale Cancer Center and professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.

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