How to Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer

Men who get moderate amounts of exercise regularly may reduce their risk of prostate cancer. That according to a new study published in the November 2009 issue of Journal of Urology, which reports that prostate cancer was less likely to be diagnosed in men who got exercise regularly than those who led a sedentary lifestyle.

A team at the Duke University Prostate Center and the VA Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina analyzed data from 190 men who underwent biopsies for suspected prostate cancer and found the association. About half of the patients who exercised moderately, or those who engaged in three to six hours of walking each week, were two-thirds less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than their sedentary counterparts. Also of note: The researchers found that men who got exercise equivalent to one to three hours of walking each week were 86 percent less likely to develop an aggressive form of the cancer.

Is there a direct link between exercise and reduced risk? Not for certain. But the findings fit with the fact that exercise, or at least some degree of physical activity, is linked to reduced cancer risks in general. One possible theory for the lowered risk is that those who exercise also tend to have a healthy diet and lifestyle. Another possible reason is that exercise can lower the level of sexual hormones in the blood, like testosterone, that are known to promote prostate cancer growth. Yet a third explanation: exercise can boost the body’s anti-oxidation mechanisms which also helps reduce the odds of acquiring prostate cancer.

A second recent study, published in a British medical journal suggests the same statistical association, i.e., that being physically active may help reduce risk of prostate cancer. The study, done at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, found that those who walk, bike or have a physical occupation show lower risk than those who sit at a desk day after day.

Nearly 200,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and, according to the National Cancer Institute, more than 27,000 will die of the disease.

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