Individuals who regularly exercise are less likely to develop cancer compared to those with a sedentary lifestyle, new evidence identifies.

A study by Edith Cowan University has found that exercise can trigger the development of myokines – proteins made by skeletal muscles that stop tumour growth and attack cancerous cells by activating a variety of anti-cancer processes.

According to the results, a single bout of vigorous exercise can increase the lifespan of people living with advanced cancer.

During the study, the team of researchers examined the blood serum of nine people with late-stage prostate cancer before and after a 30-minute exercise workout.

They discovered that the blood serum taken after a workout had higher levels of anti-cancer myokines compared to the samples taken before exercising.

In addition, exercise was found to stop the growth of prostate cancer cells by approximately 17%, the study shows.

Top author Professor Rob Newton said: “The findings from our work are particularly exciting because we report for the first time ever that men with advanced prostate cancer are able to produce an acute elevation in anti-cancer molecules called myokines in response to a single bout of vigorous exercise.

“This is helping us to understand why patients with cancer who exercise exhibit slower disease progression and survive for longer.”

He added: “These patients are palliative, so there is no cure and they will eventually succumb – however, there is evidence that exercise will extend survival and the increased myokine levels explored in our recent paper is a prime mechanism.

“The optimal dose of exercise is not yet known, but it is likely to be 20-plus minutes each day and must include resistance training to grow the muscles, increase the size and capacity of the internal pharmacy, and stimulate the myokine production.”

He concluded: “This study provides strong evidence for the recommendation patients with prostate cancer, and likely anybody with any cancer type, should perform exercise most days, if not every day, to maintain a chemical environment within their body which is suppressive of cancer cell proliferation.”

The entire findings of this research study are now available in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.

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