Lifestyle & Exercise Prevents Deadly Prostate Cancer – A New Study
A study recently published in the Journal of National Cancer Institute (JNCI) showed a significant reduction of lethal prostate cancer development in men who ate more tomatoes, few processed meats, never smoked or stopped smoking at least 10 years prior to starting the study, and exercised vigorously. The exercise part had the biggest positive effect. This means that your lifestyle has a direct influence on your prostate cancer risk.
- This study used data from two studies: the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS), which followed over 43,000 men from 1986 to 2010, and the Physicians’ Health Study (PHS), which followed over 20,000 men from 1982 to 2010.
- The study focused on 6 lifestyle areas: smoking, fish intake, processed meat intake, body mass index (BMI), and vigorous physical activities.
- Researchers wanted to know whether these 6 lifestyle factors had an impact on lethal prostate cancer. (It didn’t account for prostate cancer in lymph nodes.)_
- The researchers found that having a healthier lifestyle—defined as not smoking, normal body weight, high physical activity, and a healthy diet, may have a significant lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer.
My Take on This
To me, this is not new news, but it is always nice to see that science is still supporting the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions. This is actually the basis of the CaPLESS Method: applying the science, in detail, of how lifestyle interventions create an environment hostile to cancer cells.
Allow me to focus on movement and exercise for this blog post – the researchers found that those two were the most important.
I talk to many men about this almost everyday and everybody “falls off the horse” once in a while—which is not a big deal.
The big deal is not ever getting on the horse or staying off it.
I will be very clear here:
If you are interested in staying cancer-free or managing what you have, then you must commit to rigorous physical activity at least 3 hours a week.
I am not asking you to love this. I am asking you to do it and commit to it.
Not having time is an excuse that you need to throw out the window right now. Of course you have time. We all make time to do whatever we value.
The reality is that exercise may be painful for you, physically and mentally. However, everything worth doing is painful. Everything: going to work, having that difficult conversation with your spouse, law school, medical school, starting a business—its all painful, but at the same time it’s the most important.
I am being strong with my message here because I care about you, and nothing is more painful to me than seeing people succumb to disease from failure to take action.
Three ways movement and exercise helps against Prostate Cancer
1. It improves your insulin sensitivity.
For starters, exercise helps to improve insulin sensitivity. When you engage in intense exercise, your muscles gobble up excess sugar in your bloodstream for energy without having to ask the pancreas to make more insulin. With less insulin, and thus less sugar-energy, cancer cells are deprived of the fuel they demand. A big part of creating an environment hostile to cancer is starving cancer cells of their energy. So every time you engage in high-intensity exercise, you help to kill cancer cells by starving them of sugar.
2. It improves the function of your sewage system.
Regular exercise also improves the function of your lymphatic system, which is a complex network of organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels that make and move lymph fluid from tissues to the bloodstream. The lymph fluid is filled with your body’s army of white blood cells and works by cleaning your “dirty” blood in the lymphatic system, then returning “clean” fluid back into the circulatory system. Keeping your lymphatic system clean is yet another way to create the thriving healthy environment that is hostile to cancer cells.
3. Keep your body weight low.
Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight and keeps your body fat low, both of which can reduce your chances of prostate cancer recurrence and lower your risk of dying from prostate cancer. More and more research tells us that obesity (either before or at the time of diagnosis) makes your cancer much more likely to grow or ultimately to kill you.
For example, a 2011 study looked at 2,546 men diagnosed with localized prostate cancer. It found that being one unit higher on the BMI scale made men ten percent more likely to die of prostate cancer, and having a BMI over 30 almost doubled the risk. Keep your weight under control and you can beat prostate cancer for good.
How much exercise to do?
Do 3 to 5 hours a week.
Minimum 3 hours a week – and this would be an off week. In other words, when you have a bad week with life stuff, do no less than 3 hours that week.
How much exercise is enough and what is your Lowest Effective Dose (LED)?
The answer is 3 hours.
A recent study looked at 2,705 men who had localized prostate cancer that had not spread. Those who engaged in three hours or more of vigorous physical activity per week had a 49 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 61 percent reduced risk of dying from prostate cancer, compared with men who got less than one hour of vigorous activity per week.
What Intensity of Exercise Should You Do for Prostate Cancer (What is considered ‘vigorous’) ?
Doctors say that some movement is better than nothing. I agree. If you are stuck at zero and move into the positive, this is good. But to really address your prostate cancer and significantly improve your longevity, low intensity movement will only help to a point. You need to crank it up eventually.
No rush. Make progress when you are ready. But at least keep up a moderate intensity during those three hours of your LED to live your best life.
Moderate exercise is defined as activity carried out at 55 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate. Examples include walking at three miles per hour or bicycling at 10 to 20 miles per hour.
Vigorous exercise is defined as requiring 70 to 95 percent of maximum heart rate. This is the range you want to aim for in order to receive the greatest benefits.
There are numerous ways to measure vigorousness:
1. Measuring Heart Rate
You can take your pulse during your workout or get a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM). I don’t yet know of a great HRM but consumer reports wrote a review on these devices.
2. The Talk Test
This is an easy, rough method to measure how hard you work during exercise. During moderate intensity exercise, you can comfortably carry conversation with someone, but you can’t sing (for comparison, with low intensity you can sing). With high intensity, you should only be able to say three or four words at a time, but not a sentence. This is an easy to do during any type of exercise to constantly remind yourself to turn up the intensity when needed.
3. Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET)
This method measures the amount of energy spent in specific physical activities. For example, sleeping is measured at 0.9 and jogging is measured at 7.0. (The HPFS portion of the Kenfield study used the MET system to measure vigorousness.) Those with daily movement of six or more METs were considered vigorous.
HERE is a simple chart measuring MET for numerous activities.
What Forms of Exercise Should I Do for Prostate Cancer?
If you are starting at zero, where you have not exercised at all and hate to exercise, then do whatever you want for 30 minutes a day of continuous movement and try to sweat. Get your heart rate up too.
If you have a workout routine and are in descent shape, mix weight resistance with cardio workouts and stretching.
Guys on hormone deprivation therapy for prostate cancer should do weight resistance 3 times a week for 20 minutes each time.
Bottom Line: Get moving now, three hours a week minimum and mix it up. But don’t be silly and choose only exercise. Eating quality fish and vegetables, managing stress and in my opinion, the judicious use of dietary supplements should be part of the arsenal against prostate cancer.
I just found a short video on Dr. Kenfield, the lead researcher of the aforementioned study discussing the details. Enjoy.
- Kenfield, J. L. Batista, J. L. Jahn, M. K. Downer, E. L. Van Blarigan, H. D. Sesso, E. L. Giovannucci, M. J. Stampfer, J. M. Chan. Development and Application of a Lifestyle Score for Prevention of Lethal Prostate Cancer. JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2015; 108 (3):