Exercise and Cancer Answers

Jerry Brainum

Prostate cancer is the number-two killer of men, just after lung cancer. Several studies have shown that exercise appears to offer preventive effects against the disease. Most studies attribute that to a decrease in testosterone induced by exercise (usually endurance training). Although the finding is still controversial, testosterone is in fact linked to prostate cancer. Some scientists believe that testosterone itself isnt the villain but rather dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the testosterone by-product linked to acne and male pattern baldness.

A recent study has identified another mechanism.1 Researchers found that exercise enhances the function of a gene in the body called P53, which is known to kill cancer cells by arresting the growth of tumors and promoting their suicide, a process called apoptosis. When the blood serum after exercise was analyzed, apoptosis in prostate cancer cells increased by 371 percent, and P53 protein increased by 100 percent. Thus, exercise can help prevent prostate cancer by upgrading the bodys innate defense system against tumor formation.

1 Pak-Shan, L., et al. (2004). Exercise alters the IGF axis in vivo and increases P53 protein in prostate tumor cells in vitro. J App Physiol. 96:450-54.