Exercise May Lower Risk of Death Among Men with Prostate Cancer

Physical activity may improve survival among men diagnosed with prostate cancer. These findings were reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Exercise and its relationship to patient quality of life, cancer prevention, and impact on treatment and recurrence have been studied extensively in several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.

To determine whether survival among men diagnosed with prostate cancer can be improved with regular exercise, researchers observed 2,705 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. All participants had non-metastatic prostate cancer and were followed from 1990-2008.

  • During the study, 548 men died; 20% of these deaths were a result of prostate cancer.
  • Overall, compared with men who were not physically active, men who were active had a lower risk of death from prostate cancer and from any cause.
  • Exercise at any intensity appeared to lower overall risk of death, and increasing intensity and duration of exercise appeared to yield even greater benefits. For example, men who walked at a very brisk pace for at least 90 minutes per week had a 46% lower risk of death compared with men who walked for less time and at a slower pace.
  • Increased duration of vigorous exercise was associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer-specific death: men who exercised vigorously for three hours or more per week had a 61% reduced risk of prostate cancer-specific death compared with men who exercised vigorously for less than one hour per week.
  • Lower risk of death was also attributed to vigorous exercise before and after diagnosis.

It appears that men diagnosed with prostate cancer may be able to improve their survival by exercising vigorously for a modest amount of time (three hours or more) per week. Examples of vigorous activity include biking, tennis, jogging, or swimming. All men considering starting an exercise program should first consult their doctor.

Reference: Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, et al. Physical activity and survival after prostate cancer diagnosis in the health professionals follow-up study. Journal of Clinical Oncology [early online publication]. January 4, 2011.

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