Influence Of Exercise On Cancer
Benefits of Physical Activity for Young Cancer Patients and Survivors
Improved quality of life
The benefits of physical activity have been extensively analysed in the context of multiple diseases and conditions in humans. Research into the effect of exercise on cancer has provided conclusive findings. Exercise attenuates the loss of muscle mass and strength as well as the decrease in cardiorespiratory capacity normally observed in cancer patients, thereby improving their quality of life (1). Furthermore, increasing evidence suggests that physical exercise may also be a complementary tool (alongside conventional treatments) to fight against cancer development and cancer mortality. Thus, a meta-analysis including 71 studies showed that cancer patients who remain physically active after their diagnosis are 22% (reaching up to 35% in the case of the most active) less likely to die from cancer than those who remain inactive (2).
The more the merrier
The more the merrier
According to this work published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, there appears to be a potential 'dose-response' between the effects of physical activity and cancer mortality, i.e., more exercise more benefits (2). In addition, the study concluded that physical activity after a cancer diagnosis exerts a greater protective effect against mortality than physical activity pre-diagnosis. Not just this, a large body of evidence supports the benefits of exercise in the control and reduction of the main adverse effects of the disease, such as cancer-related fatigue, lymphoedema, cardiotoxicity, sarcopenia, osteoporosis, and others (3–10).
Despite treatment advances and improvements in survival rates, cancer survivors frequently experience adverse events related to the disease and its treatment, of which many can persist after treatment has ended. In this context, cancer survivors need to stay active to cope with the late effects of cancer and its treatments.
Given its proven benefits, physical exercise could be considered the main non-pharmacological treatment to fight cancer and its deleterious effects. Despite growing evidence on the benefits of exercise during and after cancer, it is well known that “prevention is better than cure”, so ideally, we should exercise throughout our life and not only when compelled by illness.
Stay tuned! The OACCUs App – to be released on December 16, 2022 – will provide tailored exercise plans for cancer patients & survivors.
1. Scott JM, Zabor EC, Schwitzer E, Koelwyn GJ, Adams SC, Nilsen TS, et al. Efficacy of exercise therapy on cardiorespiratory fitness in patients with cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Oncol. 2018 Aug 1;36(22):2297–304.
2. Li T, Wei S, Shi Y, Pang S, Qin Q, Yin J, et al. The dose-response effect of physical activity on cancer mortality: Findings from 71 prospective cohort studies. Br J Sports Med. 2016;50(6):339–45.
3. Mustian KM, Alfano CM, Heckler C, Kleckner AS, Kleckner IR, Leach CR, et al. Comparison of Pharmaceutical, Psychological, and Exercise Treatments for Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Meta-analysis. JAMA Oncol. 2017;3(7):961–8.
4. Hayes SC, Reul-Hirche H, Turner J. Exercise and secondary lymphedema: Safety, potential benefits, and research issues. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(3):483–9.
5. Keilani M, Hasenoehrl T, Neubauer M, Crevenna R. Resistance exercise and secondary lymphedema in breast cancer survivors—a systematic review. Support Care Cancer. 2016;24(4):1907–16.
6. D’ascenzi F, Anselmi F, Fiorentini C, Mannucci R, Bonifazi M, Mondillo S. The benefits of exercise in cancer patients and the criteria for exercise prescription in cardio-oncology. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2021;28(7):725–35.
7. Christensen JF, Jones LW, Tolver A, Jørgensen LW, Andersen JL, Adamsen L, et al. Safety and efficacy of resistance training in germ cell cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy: a randomized controlled trial. Br J Cancer 2014;111(1):8–16.
8. Padilha CS, Marinello PC, Galvão DA, Newton RU, Borges FH, Frajacomo F, et al. Evaluation of resistance training to improve muscular strength and body composition in cancer patients undergoing neoadjuvant and adjuvant therapy: a meta-analysis. J Cancer Surviv. 2017;11(3):339–49.
9. Jones LW, Liang Y, Pituskin EN, Battaglini CL, Scott JM, Hornsby WE, et al. Effect of Exercise Training on Peak Oxygen Consumption in Patients with Cancer: A Meta‐Analysis. Oncologist. 2011;16(1):112–20.
10. Winters-Stone KM, Dobek J, Nail L, Bennett JA, Leo MC, Naik A, et al. Strength training stops bone loss and builds muscle in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors: A randomized, controlled trial. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011;127(2):447–56.