Physical activity may protect against prostate cancer


Physical activity may protect against prostate cancer


Researchers have discovered a link between a lack of physical activity and an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among males worldwide. By the end of 2019, data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) states that there will have been an estimated 174,650 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. alone.

Despite the high number of people affected by the disease, specialists still have insufficient knowledge about the risk factors that may affect the cancer’s development.

The NCI notes a mixture of factors, including age, family history of prostate cancer, and levels of vitamin E, folic acid, and calcium in the body. However, there may be more lifestyle-related factors at play, and investigators are working to reveal them.

A team of researchers from the University of Bristol and Imperial College London in the UK have used a new approach to uncover prostate cancer risk factors.

Their study is published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, and in it the team use a method called “Mendelian randomisation”.

Mendelian randomization is a method which allows the researchers to look at genetic variations in order to assess relationships between potential risk factors and the development of certain outcomes – in this study, prostate cancer.


Physical activity may more than halve risk


In the study, the potential risk factors were identified through the World Cancer Research Fund’s (WCRF) 2018 systematic review of the evidence.

They also used the medical information from 79,148 participants with prostate cancer, as well as 61,106 participants without cancer who acted as the controls.

The analysis revealed that participants with a genetic variation that increased their likelihood of being physically active had a 51% lower risk of prostate cancer than the people who did not have this variation.

Physical activity, in this case, refers to all forms of activity, and not just exercise.

Further to this, the authors concluded that interventions encouraging males to increase their physical activity levels may have a protective effect against this form of cancer.

"This study is the largest-ever of its kind, which uses a relatively new method that complements current observational research to discover what causes prostate cancer," notes study co-author Sarah Lewis, Ph.D.

"It suggests that there could be a larger effect of physical activity on prostate cancer than previously thought, so will hopefully encourage men to be more active."

Anna Diaz Font, who is head of research funding at WCRF — which, alongside Cancer Research U.K., funded this study — emphasises the importance of the current findings.

"Up till now, there has only been limited evidence of an effect of physical activity on prostate cancer. This new study looked at the effect of 22 risk factors on prostate cancer, but the results for physical activity were the most striking," she says.

The study's findings, Diaz Font believes, "will pave the way for even more research, where similar methods could be applied to other lifestyle factors, to help identify ways men can reduce their risk of prostate cancer."



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