Men with prostate cancer who exercise vigorously have a significantly lower risk of dying from the disease compared to other diagnosed males, researchers revealed in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Harvard School of Public Health and University of California, San Francisco researchers said this is the first study to examine what effect physical activity may have after a diagnosis of prostate cancer on cancer-specific and overall mortality.

Lead author, Stacey Kenfield, said:

“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. This is good news for men living with prostate cancer who wonder what lifestyle practices to follow to improve cancer survival.”

Prostate cancer affects approximately one in every six American men during their lifetime; it is the most commonly diagnosed male cancer. 16 million males globally are known to be cancer survivors, of which 2 million are American.

Kenfield and team examined data on 2,705 males with prostate cancer from the Health Professional Follow-Up Study over a period of 18 years. Patients reported how much physical activity they did each week, including cycling, running, walking and other exercises.

The researchers found that any type of regular exercise improved overall survival, regardless of intensity. However, those who walked at least 90 minutes per week at a normal or brisk pace were 46% less likely to die from any cause compared to men who walked less than 90 minutes per week at a slow pace.

Those involved in “vigorous activity” had a significantly lower risk of dying from prostate cancer. Vigorous activity in this case meant doing at least three hours of intensive exercise each week. They found that a prostate cancer patient who takes part in vigorous activity has a 61% lower chance of dying from prostate cancer compared to those who only did one hour or less of easy exercise per week.

Kenfield said:

“We observed benefits at very attainable levels of activity and our results suggest that men with prostate cancer should do some physical activity for their overall health, even if it is a small amount, such as 15 minutes of activity per day of walking, jogging, biking or gardening. However, doing vigorous activity for three or more hours per week may be especially beneficial for prostate cancer, as well as overall health.

“Physical Activity and Survival After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study”
Stacey A. Kenfield, Meir J. Stampfer, Edward Giovannucci and June M. Chan
Journal of Clinical Oncology January 4, 2011, doi: 10.1200/JCO.2010.31.5226

Written by Christian Nordqvist