A recent study conducted at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center suggests that 45 minutes of intense exercise, three times a week, may reduce the risk of cancer in patients with Lynch syndrome, a genetic condition that predisposes individuals to cancer at a young age. The study, led by oncologist Eduardo Vilar-Sanchez, involved 21 participants with Lynch syndrome who were divided into two groups. One group followed a 12-month exercise program, while the other did not. The researchers measured the participants' cardio and respiratory fitness and tracked immune cells in their blood and colon tissues.
The study found that the group that exercised experienced an increase in immune cells responsible for attacking cancer cells, as well as a decrease in levels of the inflammatory marker prostaglandin E2. These changes suggest a stronger immune response and a potential boost in the body's ability to detect and eliminate cancerous cells.
While previous research has already shown that regular exercise can help prevent cancer, this study is the first to demonstrate a link between exercise and changes in immune biomarkers. A systematic review of over 45 studies conducted in 2019 also found strong evidence that exercise can reduce the risk of various cancers by up to 20%.
The researchers are cautious about extrapolating the findings to the general population, as the study specifically focused on individuals with Lynch syndrome. However, they remain optimistic that exercise may have similar protective effects against other types of cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week to reduce cancer risk, but the participants in this study saw a significant immune response with just 135 minutes of high-intensity exercise per week.
It is important to note that this study was small, with only 21 participants, and further research is needed to validate the findings. However, the results highlight the potential benefits of exercise in cancer prevention and support the notion that engaging in any form of exercise can have positive effects on reducing cancer risk.
Overall, this study adds to the growing body of evidence linking exercise to a decreased risk of cancer and provides valuable insights into the biological mechanisms behind this association. It emphasizes the importance of incorporating physical activity into one's lifestyle and encourages individuals to consult with their healthcare providers about exercise recommendations for cancer prevention.