We’ve Got to Keep on Moving

New study underscores the importance of exercise for prostate cancer patients.

Research data continue to show that exercise is good for prostate cancer patients.

In earlier entries, I’ve written of the need to maintain weight loss following a diagnosis of prostate cancer. There is that hockey stick curve that demonstrates the chances of recurrence dramatically increasing with each pound gained. Now, data from a recent study conducted by researchers from Harvard and UCSF, and published online by the Journal of Clinical Oncology, indicates that men who maintain more vigorous levels of physical activity have the lowest risk of dying from this disease. How’s that for motivation?

According to a news release issued from Harvard, “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,” said Stacey Kenfield, lead author of the study and a Harvard School of Public Health researcher. “This is good news for men living with prostate cancer who wonder what lifestyle practices to follow to improve cancer survival.”

Researchers who conducted the study reported that the results showed that both non-vigorous and vigorous activity were beneficial for overall survival. Compared with men who walked less than 90 minutes per week at an easy pace, those who walked 90 or more minutes per week at a normal to very brisk pace had a 46% lower risk of dying from any cause. Hopwever, only vigorous activity—defined as more than three hours per week—was associated with reduced prostate cancer mortality. Men who did vigorous activity had a 61% lower risk of prostate cancer-specific death compared with men who did less than one hour per week of vigorous activity.

In addition to having an effect on outcomes, exercise, including light weight lifting, can also help mitigate the fatigue often associated with radiation therapy. Although, anyone who has been through it can appreciate the challenge of trying to exercise “vigorously” while just trying to stay awake and move through your day!  While every patient is unique and at vastly different phases of their treatment, the take away is clear: a modest amount of vigorous activity such as biking, tennis, jogging, or even walking at a brisk pace for at least 3 hours a week may substantially improve prostate cancer survival.

This Harvard, UCSF was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Charles A. King Trust and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. PCF is an ardent supporter of research studying the effects of lifestyle factors on prostate cancer. For more information on diet, exercise and prostate cancer, you can download or order a free copy of PCF’s Nutrition and Exercise Guide.

Speaking of Exercise…

Jim Hickey is making his fifth attempt to walk across the United States to raise awareness for cancer and research.

I just read this morning that a Livingston, New Jersey resident and former U.S.Marine named Jim Hickey is currently making his fifth attempt to walk across the United States to raise awareness for cancer and research. His father died of prostate cancer in 1998. Six months later, his 41-year-old brother was also diagnosed with the disease. His first three attempts were aborted due to support issues. He had to abandon his fourth attempt due to a knee injury. This time Jim says he is committed to finishing his walk even if he has to “crawl” to finish it. Considering many choose to drive to the corner store instead of walking to it, Jim’s effort is a stellar one to say the least. He was last seen in a television news story as he passed through Mishiwaka, Indiana. You can friend Jim on Facebook.

In a recent newspaper article, Jim admitted that his diet isn’t the best. With prostate cancer in his family, hopefully all that walking will will make a difference. That said, I’ll be sure to get my three hours of exercise in this week. (If I don’t, I am sure my family will be after me until I do.)

You go, Jim. We’re cheering for you!

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5 Responses to “We’ve Got to Keep on Moving”

  1. YES !!!! The exact reason I took up geocaching this Xmas as a present to myself. It will get me out in the fresh air and walking to start getting back into shape. We need to find anything that interests us to keep moving and burning those calories. And if I can add years to my life…what a great bonus to ourselves and our families.

    Thanks for this excellent blog once again.

  2. Not to mention the criticality (not just the mere importance) of exercise (especially resistance and weight exercises) for PCa guys on androgen deprivation therapy. Exercise is really about the only effective way to counteract the effects of muscle- and bone-mass loss for those of us in the testosterone-deprived cohort. Plus, there’s the added dividend of the exercise-induced endorphin release that helps keep depression at bay.

  3. Not so much a comment as a question. I read the article at PCF on this research and there seems to be a contradiction in it. They state that exercise helps to increase the life expectancy of cancer patients, and then in another paragraph, they state that exercise can help the cancer progress. I don’t understand.

    • Note: this is not a contradiction. “Insulin sensitivity” means you do not need a lot of insulin to process glucose so that is good. When you are not insulin sensitive you need more insulin and that has negative impacts such as cell growth, etc as mentioned.

      Thank you.

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