Just one work-out can help suppress cancer, a new study suggests.
Scientists discovered a single bout of exercise can suppress tumour growth and actively fight cancerous cells - even in those with incurable, advanced cancer.
The study builds on a discovery by researcher at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia that, by exercising, people with prostate cancer can change the chemical environment of their body to suppress cancer cell growth.
Those who engaged in exercise training for six months produced myokines, a protein produced by skeletal muscles which stimulate anti-cancer processes in the body.
ECU’s Exercise Medicine Research Institute (EMRI) found just one exercise bout can elevate myokines even further, adding to the suppression of cancer.
EMRI researcher Professor Rob Newton says the discovery was a breakthrough, and could immediately shape advice given to cancer patients.
He said: “The findings from our work are particularly exciting because we report for the first time ever that men with advanced prostate cancer are able to produce an acute elevation in anti-cancer molecules called myokines in response to a single bout of vigorous exercise.
“This is helping us to understand why patients with cancer who exercise exhibit slower disease progression and survive for longer.
“These patients are palliative, so there is no cure and they will eventually succumb – however, there is evidence that exercise will extend survival and the increased myokine levels explored in our recent paper is a prime mechanism.”
The team got nine patients with late-stage prostate cancer to perform 34 minutes of high-intensity exercise on a stationary bicycle.
Blood serum was collected immediately before and after, and then again 30 minutes after the work-out.
Serum taken straight after exercising contained elevated levels of anti-cancer myokines, which suppressed the growth of prostate cancer cells in vitro by around 17 per cent.
After 30 minutes the myokine levels and cancer suppression returned to baseline.Professor Newton believes the optimal dose is around 20 minutes each day.
He added: “The optimal dose of exercise is not yet known, but it is likely to be 20-plus minutes each day and must include resistance training to grow the muscles, increase the size and capacity of the internal pharmacy, and stimulate the myokine production.
“This study provides strong evidence for the recommendation patients with prostate cancer, and likely anybody with any cancer type, should perform exercise most days, if not every day, to maintain a chemical environment within their body which is suppressive of cancer cell proliferation.”
The research was published in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases.