Prostate cancer patients and survivors who exercise could be improving their chances of survival according to new research.
In a study by the Epidemiology Research Program at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Ying Wang and her team looked at data from 10 067 men aged between 50 and 93 at the time of their cancer diagnosis, who were part of the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort.
During the study the men reported on how much time they spent partaking in physical activity.
After looking at the levels of activity both before and after a diagnosis of prostate cancer, and taking into account factors such as age at diagnosis, the team found that men who exercised the most before they were diagnosed with prostate cancer had a 30% lower risk of death from the disease than those who exercised the least, and men who exercised the most after they were diagnosed had a 34% lower risk of death than those who exercised the least.
Commenting on the results Wang said, "The American Cancer Society recommends adults engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. These results indicate that following these guidelines might be associated with better prognosis."
And when looking at the effect of walking at the only form of physical activity, as reported by around 40% of patients, the team found that levels of walking were also associated with an increased chance of survival, with walking for four to six hours per week before diagnosis reducing prostate cancer mortality rates by 33%, and walking for seven or more hours per week reducing the risk by 37%. However these results were only seen in those who walked before, and not after, prostate cancer diagnosis.
The team found that sedentary time, which included time spent sitting or driving in a car, watching TV, and reading, was not associated with an increased risk of death from prostate cancer.
Although the study relied on self-reports from participants, which can include errors in reporting and recalling information, Wang maintained that, "Our results support evidence that prostate cancer survivors should adhere to physical activity guidelines, and suggest that physicians should consider promoting a physically active lifestyle to their prostate cancer patients."
Wang also believes that further research would be useful to see if the results are affected by factors such age at diagnosis, body mass index, or smoking.
The research was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2016, April 16-20.