Regular exercise isn't just good for a man's physique -- it's
also great for his prostate health. "There is a growing body of medical
research that points to the benefits that regular activity can offer when
it comes to preventing prostate cancer," says
James DeCock, MD, a family medicine physician at
Mission Heritage Medical Group in Foothill Ranch. "It's just one more reason why men should
make the time for workouts. Exercise is a key component to maintaining
good health over the long term."
The latest study was published in November 2015 in the
Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers developed a scoring system and applied it to lifestyle factors
for men who participated in two health studies. The men who had the highest
scores generally had a high rate of exercise, as well as a healthy diet,
low body-mass index, and a smoke-free lifestyle, among other factors.
These men had a reduced risk for prostate cancer compared to men with
lower scores -- up to 68 percent less in some cases. And the factor that
was associated with the steepest drop in cancer risk? Intense rates of exercise.
"The study authors also said that if men older than 60 would break
a sweat with some form of exercise for only three hours per week, it could
reduce the number of deadly prostate cancer cases by 34 percent,"
Dr. DeCock says. "With an estimated 220,800 new cases of prostate
cancer diagnosed in 2015 and 27,540 deaths, according to the American
Cancer Society, healthy exercise habits have the potential to make significant
strides in the fight against this disease."
These new findings build upon previous studies, among them one from Duke
University Medical Center that was published in the
Journal of Urology. Among the 190 men in the study, those who were even just moderately active
were not as likely to get prostate cancer compared to more sedentary participants,
and those who exercised and did get cancer had a milder form of it.
In addition, a 2014 Swedish study reported that men who were diagnosed
with prostate cancer and exercised at least 20 minutes each day cut their
risk of dying from the cancer by almost 40 percent. And a 2011 report in the
Journal of Clinical Oncology estimated the risk of prostate cancer death went down 61 percent if a
man exercised intensely three or more hours a week, compared to men who
didn't exercise as much. That study, and another in the
Journal of Physical Activity & Health, stated that regular exercise reduced the risk of death by cancer.
"As you can see, exercise is a key component of a healthy lifestyle,
especially when it comes to preventing prostate cancer," Dr. DeCock
says. "While you can't change certain risk factors, such as old
age or family history, you can make lifestyle modifications to improve
and maintain prostate health. In addition to exercising regularly, men
should eat low-calorie meals, avoiding too much red meat and full-fat
dairy, swapping them instead for fish, tomatoes, and cruciferous vegetables;
practice stress management techniques; and avoid smoking. Men older than
50 should also talk with their doctor about getting a prostate exam."
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