According to two recent studies conducted by an American and Dutch team and published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, exercise is beneficial for colon and prostate cancer survivors.
In the American study, the research team led by Siobhan Phillips of Northwestern University assessed the effect of different intensities and types of physical exercise in survivors of prostate cancer and compared it with a sedentary lifestyle. Data was retrieved from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, involving 1,917 men that had a prostate cancer diagnosis before 2005.
Results from Philips’ research team revealed that among cancer survivors, at least three hours walking improved their vitality and their hormone functioning. These results were even more pronounced among those survivors who walked for more than 90 minutes every week at a normal or fast speed. Data on the effects of weightlifting were less well-defined, as researchers found an association with increased urinary incontinence.
“Encouraging men to engage in non-vigorous activity and walking may be helpful for managing prostate cancer-related quality of life,” said Phillips in a recent news release.
The results from the Dutch research corroborate the benefits of physical exercise found by the American researchers. The Dutch research was led by Floortje Mols of Tilburg University, and looked at data from a regional population-based survey of 1,648 colorectal cancer survivors.
Colorectal cancer is the third most usual cancer type in both women and men, with patients usually experiencing neural damage from chemotherapy, also known as chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). The symptoms involve burning or a tingling sensation in the feet or in the hands, muscle weakness, itching, or reflex loss.
Results from the Dutch research revealed that those patients who do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity every week have less of these symptoms between two to eleven years following their cancer diagnosis. Patients who engage in less exercise were found to have more symptoms, leading to poorer quality of life. “Regular physical activity plays an important role in colorectal cancer prevention, recurrence and mortality,” said Dr. Mols.
On the positive side, the study revealed that nine in every ten Dutch survivors of colorectal cancer are engaging in sufficient physical activity. “Surviving a lifestyle-related illness perhaps makes patients more aware of the importance of physical activity,” explained Dr. Mols.