A recent review of the literature has found an impressive number of studies showing a significant benefit suggesting that men who participate in regular physical activity have a higher chance of preventing prostate cancer than men who achieve little to no physical activity.
“I have always been an advocate of exercise for all men not only in preventing prostate cancer, but also in better managing the progression and treatment of it,” said Dr. Samadi. “We know the importance of physical activity and how it improves a man’s physical and emotional health. Physical activity is also vital in helping men achieve a healthy body weight, maintain muscle mass, keeps their bones strong and it reduces potential side effects of prostate cancer treatment.”
The review conducted systematic searches of Ovid/MEDLINE and Pubmed databases for a span of twenty years from 1996 to June 2016. Researchers linked the terms prostate neoplasms/prostate cancer, cancer with occupation, occupational title, sedentary job or heavy work, exercise, physical activity, sports, athletes, physical education/training or aerobic fitness. The goal was to evaluate earlier studies reporting that regular physical activity is an effective preventive measure of prostate cancer and to examine the optimal pattern of exercise and optimal age of making physical activity more powerful.
A total of 85 analyses were found. Out of the total, 24 analyses found a trend to diminished risk and 21 showed a significant decrease (10-30% or more) in at least some subject subsets. Only seven analyses showed an increased risk while 31 have no clear relationship between exercise and prostate cancer. Two analyses were repeat analyses of the same data set.
A possible mechanism of how exercise reduces the process of prostate cancer from developing is that regular physical activity not only tends to modify weight gain and oxidant stress but also is likely reinforced by exercise-related decreases in circulating levels of testosterone and insulin-like growth factors. This would lead to reducing stimulants encouraging the growth and proliferation of cancer cells.
“There are several key points coming from this review,” stated Dr. Samadi. “One is the fact that several studies showed vigorous exercise, when compared to light or moderate exercise, had a greater impact on reducing a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. Another important finding was that the best age for being physically active for preventing prostate cancer appeared to be during adolescence and young adulthood. This is not to say men who become physically active later in life won’t benefit from it in terms of reducing prostate cancer, but rather that’s just the ideal scenario.”
Dr. Samadi went on to add, “It is very interesting to see that the review is suggesting that exercise may be involved in leading to suppressing androgenic hormones like testosterone. The goal for all men is to keep their testosterone levels within a normal range as there have been studies showing high levels may increase prostate cancer risk.”
Prostate cancer is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer morbidity and mortality in men. There are many lifestyle risk factors men can modify to reduce their risk such as maintaining a healthy body weight, food choices, not smoking, reducing or abstaining from alcohol, and reducing their exposure to cadmium and pesticides.
“I believe the biggest takeaway from this review is all men should find ways of incorporating physical activity into their lives,” recommended Dr. Samadi. “It has to be a priority throughout a man’s life starting at a young age. The good news is that regular exercise has few if any adverse consequences of increasing prostate cancer and at the very least we all know it can have a very favorable impact on reducing other health problems such as diabetes or hypertension. The more a man can do to reduce his lifetime risk of prostate cancer, the more he should embrace that.”
Patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer can contact world renowned prostate cancer surgeon and urologic oncologist, Dr. David Samadi, for a free phone consultation and to learn more about prostate cancer risk, call 212-365-5000.Health articles