Exercise Cuts Prostate Cancer Death Risk

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be able to reduce their risk of death not just from prostate cancer but from any cause by exercising vigorously for at least three hours per week, new research indicates.

Jan. 6, 2011 -- Men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be able to reduce their risk of death not just from prostate cancer but from any cause by exercising vigorously for at least three hours per week, new research indicates.

A study performed by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of California-San Francisco examined the records of 2,705 men who had been diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer over an 18-year period in a project known as the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The men in the study reported the time they spent exercising on a weekly basis. This included running, bicycling, walking, swimming, other sports, and even outdoor work.

Benefits of Physical Activity

Non-vigorous and vigorous activity proved beneficial for overall survival, the study says.

Men who walked more than 90 minutes per week at a normal to brisk pace had a 46% lower risk of dying from any cause compared to men who walked less than 90 minutes per week.

Men who reported vigorous activity for at least three hours per week had a 61% lower risk of a prostate cancer-specific death, compared with men who exercised for less than an hour per week.

“Our results suggest that men can reduce their risk of prostate cancer progression after a diagnosis of prostate cancer by adding physical activity to their daily routine,” study author Stacey Kenfield of Harvard says in a news release. “This is good news for men living with prostate cancer who wonder what lifestyle practices to follow to improve cancer survival.”

Some Exercise Better Than No Exercise

She says the researchers “observed benefits at very attainable levels of activity” and that the study suggests that men with prostate cancer “should do some physical activity for their overall health, even if it is a small amount, such as 15 minutes of activity per day of walking, jogging, biking, or gardening.”

She says, however, that “doing vigorous activity for three or more hours per week may be especially beneficial for prostate cancer, as well as overall health.”

The results are significant because prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men in the United States. Although more than 80% of prostate cancer patients are diagnosed with localized disease, the relative 10-year survival rate is 93% for all stages combined.

More than 2 million men in the U.S. are prostate cancer survivors.

“We observed a significant risk reduction for prostate cancer mortality with increasing vigorous activity,” the authors write.

They say more research is needed to determine which exercise regimens are best for men with prostate cancer.

The study is published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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