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Men's Health: Physical fitness reduces the risk of prostate cancer

Men's Health: Physical fitness reduces the risk of prostate cancer

Sciences Men's health

Even a little jogging can protect against prostate cancer

Man running in the park

Cancer Risk: Staying active pays off

Source: Photo Alliance / German Press Agency / Markus Schulz

Prostate cancer is one of the most common tumors of all. But even a small increase in physical fitness can prevent many types of cancer. A large study conducted by Swedish researchers has shown for the first time just how large the effect is.

sProstate cancer is one of the most common tumors in men – but it can be avoided through physical fitness. This emerges from a comprehensive analysis now presented by a Swedish research team. It is the first study ever to clearly demonstrate that cardiopulmonary fitness has a protective effect on the development of prostate cancer.

The team, led by Kate Bolam from the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences GIH in Stockholm, included nearly 60,000 men in the study. Study participants' cardiorespiratory endurance was measured on a bicycle ergometer as part of health screenings conducted by their employers. Bolam and colleagues linked this information with data from Swedish national disease registries and analyzed the progression of prostate cancer over an average period of about seven years. The researchers present the results in “British Journal of Sports Medicine“.

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An image of the tumor using an MRI

According to this, the training level of many men remained the same over time or even decreased. But some of them improved their fitness, and they were also less likely to develop prostate cancer. The risk of cancer was reduced by a third if test subjects could increase their maximum oxygen consumption by just three percent between two health checks.

This is also notable because – unlike breast, colon or lung cancer – for prostate cancer, it is not yet clear whether and to what extent the risk of the disease can be reduced by a person's behavior. The study now suggests that even a relatively small amount of physical training can pay off significantly.

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Examination by a dermatologist

However, there was only evidence of a lower incidence of prostate cancer among fitter men, but no reduction in mortality from the disease. This may simply be because of all the study participants, only 46 of them died from prostate cancer during the (very short) observation period: the number is too small to reliably prove statistical differences between different fitness levels.

In any case, men should be encouraged to exercise in middle age, the study authors say. Since regular exercise also has many other positive health effects and protects against cardiovascular disease, for example, there are actually many advantages to being and staying physically active.

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