Here’s a thought to wrap our heads around: We now know that NOT exercising is actually a risk factor for cancer, like smoking.
For over a decade, research has shown that exercise is a protective factor for preventing all kinds of conditions and diseases including cancer. But recently, the anti-cancer effect has come into focus. In fact, a paper published this year in the Journal of American Medical Association reports that physical activity lowers the risk of 13 types of cancer!
According to a report from Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “Multiple studies show that regular physical activity is linked to increased life expectancy [even] after the diagnosis of cancer and in many cases, decreases the risk of cancer recurring.” Now when the study uses “linked to,” we know it isn’t proven—yet. But exercise has clearly been shown to help with the 3 approaches to cancer: preventing it, surviving treatment for it, and preventing re-occurrence.
For you science geeks, epinephrine—released during exercise—helps to circulate “natural killer cells” in cancer. That’re really their name: NK cells. And that’s what those cells do.
We already know that exercise affects the endocrine system in other ways. It reduces insulin levels in the bloodstream, increases insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and decreases leptin levels. Of interest here is that when leptin levels are high, various cancers survive better, grow faster and spread more (Dutta et al. 2012), reducing those levels helps.
Exercise also minimizes the negative effects of conventional cancer therapy. A meta-analysis (my favorite kind!) of 16 studies found that cancer patients who added exercise to their treatment had consistently better quality of life, as in less fatigue, more energy, fewer hospital stays and doctor visits and higher self-esteem, perhaps because they felt stronger and more successful.
The best news: it’s never too late to start. Even if you haven’t exercised in years, consider that your genes are ready and waiting for your new instructions. Any inflammatory gene that has been activated by lack of movement can be deactivated by exercise. Genes that suppress tumor growth can be turned on.
If you know someone being treated for cancer or you’d like to get started yourself with the right kind of exercise, call us today at (404) 435-6367 and schedule your consultation. We are a private facility and space is limited, so call today!