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Prostate cancer grows half as fast in walkers

Men with prostate cancer can halve the speed at which the disease develops by walking three hours a week at a brisk pace. This is suggested by a study published by epidemiologists at Harvard School of Public Health in Cancer Research. Walking at slow speed doesn't delay the disease.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men in Europe and the United States. In these areas 1 in 6 men develops the disease sooner or later. That doesn't mean however that the other five men have avoided the problem. According to extrapolations based on autopsy reports, almost a fifth of all men aged between 50 and 60 have prostate cancer, without being aware of it. Almost half of all 70-80 year-old men have prostate cancer. Nearly all men, if they live long enough, probably develop prostate cancer.

Oncologists are able to detect prostate cancer earlier and earlier. Because the medicines most commonly used to inhibit prostate cancer deactivate testosterone, they have serious side effects and because it's often not possible to completely get rid of prostate cancer in the body, most men suffering from the disease have to take medicine for the rest of their life. Prostate cancer has become a chronic disease.

In 2011 researchers at the University of Harvard published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology a study in which men who had prostate cancer but not metastases were shown to have considerably higher survival chances if they walked for at least two and a quarter hours every day. [J Clin Oncol. 2011 Feb 20;29(6):726-32.] The study that's the subject of this posting is similar to the other study. The researchers followed almost 1500 men in whom prostate cancer had been discovered about two years previously.

The researchers looked at the progress of the disease. They recorded when men died, when metastases were discovered in the men's bones and when the PSA test upper values rose and gave doctors cause for concern.

The researchers also looked at the amount of exercise the men took. They discovered that in men who walked for three hours each week at a speed of at least 5 km per hour, the cancer developed sixty percent more slowly than in men who got less exercise. That means that brisk walking almost halved the speed at which prostate cancer developed.

Prostate cancer grows half as fast in walkers

As the figure shows, walking for three hours a week at a slower pace than 5 km per hour had no protective effect.

"We observed a statistically significant inverse association between brisk walking after diagnosis and risk of prostate cancer progression in men diagnosed with clinically localized prostate cancer", the researchers conclude.

"These results were based on a relatively small number of events among brisk walkers and thus further study is needed. However, our results are consistent with the only other study [J Clin Oncol. 2011 Feb 20;29(6):726-32.] of physical activity after diagnosis and clinical outcomes in prostate cancer survivors, and suggest significant clinical benefits of brisk walking for men with prostate cancer."

Cancer Res. 2011 Jun 1; 71(11): 3889-95.

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