Exercise and prostate cancer

New research adds credence for why men ought to exercise both before and after a prostate cancer diagnosis to maximize their chances of longer survival and/or improved quality of life.

Key Points: Men who regularly walked at a brisk pace of 3.5 mph or greater before any prostate cancer diagnosis, had more normally shaped blood vessels in their tumors once a cancer did develop. Malformed blood vessels in a prostate tumor have been associated with an increased risk of developing lethal cancers.

A growing body of research suggests that exercise benefits men with prostate cancer, and now a new study may have determined one of the reasons why. In findings presented by several researchers, it was determined that men with a history of brisk walking prior to a diagnosis of prostate cancer had healthier-looking, more normally shaped blood vessels in their prostate tumors after diagnosis.

The researchers had previously shown that small, irregularly shaped vessels in human prostate tumors were linked to an increased risk of death in men with prostate cancer. “We hypothesized that brisk walking and vigorous activity would be associated with larger, more regularly shaped vessels in human prostate tumors,” said the researchers.

To test their theory, they reviewed the self-reported physical activity levels of 572 men in the study prior to a diagnosis of prostate cancer. All the men in the study underwent surgery to remove their prostate gland after their cancer was diagnosed. The researchers examined post-surgical tissue samples of these men and found that those who reported the fastest walking pace (3.5 to 4.5 mph) prior to their diagnosis of prostate cancer had more normally shaped blood vessels in their tumors compared to men with the slowest walking pace (1.5 to 2.5 mph).

This may be quite important, say the researchers, because more normally shaped vessels in prostate tumors may inhibit cancer spread in the body and might also improve men’s response to anti-cancer therapies.

Interestingly, and somewhat surprising to the researchers was that while brisk walking was associated with a positive effect on the shape of a tumor’s vasculature, more vigorous levels of exercise, such as running or cycling, did not seem to have an effect of tumor vessel shape.

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