Vigorous Exercise Activates Cancer Prevention Genes


New research shows that at least 3 hours per week of vigorous exercise improves the function of multiple cancer-preventing genes.



As I extensively discuss in my bestselling book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise has been repeatedly shown to reduce our risk of developing cancer, as well as reducing the risk of recurrence of breast cancer and other types of cancer.  Moreover, there is research to suggest that this cancer-prevention benefit of exercise is independent of whether or not a person is overweight or obese.  However, the exact mechanism, or mechanisms, whereby exercise reduces cancer risk has not been clear, thus far.  Now, a newly presented research study offers some fascinating insights into potential biological links between exercise and cancer risk reduction.  This new study was just presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2012 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, and has been published in a supplement to the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In this study, 70 men underwent biopsy of their prostate glands, which revealed normal prostate tissue.  These normal prostate tissue samples were then subjected to extensive genetic analysis.  These 70 men also completed detailed questionnaires regarding their exercise habits, which included questions that asked if they engaged in any vigorous physical activity at all, and whether or not they engaged in at least 3 hours of vigorous activity per week.

Genetic testing of these prostate gland biopsy specimens revealed that the function of 184 different cancer-related genes was significantly affected by vigorous exercise for at least 3 hours per week.  Among these observed changes in gene function was an increase in the function of the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are known to reduce the risk of developing cancer (i.e., tumor suppressor genes).  In fact, inherited mutations of these BRCA genes are known to dramatically increase the risk of breast cancer (in both men and women), ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer in patients affected with these “deactivating” BRCA gene mutations.  Moreover, the function of genes which are involved in the normal growth and division of cells, and in the repair of damaged DNA, also improved in the men who reported at least 3 hours of vigorous physical activity per week.  Another important finding of this very impressive research study is that the men who reported engaging in vigorous physical activity forless than 3 hours per week did not show any improvement in cancer-suppressing gene function when compared to men who indicated that they did not engage in any vigorous physical activity.

The findings of this innovative research study are hugely important, in my view, as it is one of the first studies to identify specific genetic mechanisms that may potentially explain why vigorous exercise reduces cancer risk.  While many other clinical studies have indirectly linked increased levels of physical activity to a reduced risk of developing cancer, this intriguing research study has identified multiple actual cancer-suppressing genes whose function appears to be significantly improved, or “upregulated,” in response to vigorous, frequent exercise.  The finding that at least 3 hours of vigorous activity per week is necessary to improve the function of these critical anti-cancer genes is particularly important, and may serve as a guide as to how much exercise we need to engage in to significantly lower our risk of developing cancer.  Additionally, knowing which cancer-suppressing genes respond favorably to frequent and vigorous exercise may also help scientists to develop new strategies to manipulate these anti-cancer genes, in an effort to further reduce our risk of developing cancer.

This study is a crucial advance in our understanding of the biological mechanisms whereby higher levels of physical activity appear to reduce the risk of developing cancer.  Although this is a rather small study, its implications with respect to cancer prevention are likely to be huge!

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my bestselling book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionVroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.

Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author

I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


Bookmark and Share

Post to Twitter

Better Tag Cloud