Brisk walking may reduce risk of prostate cancer progression

In collaboration with Adfero

Men with early-stage prostate cancer may benefit from walking briskly for at least three hours per week, US scientists have found.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and the Harvard School of Public Health studied 1,455 men, all of whom had prostate cancer that had not spread beyond the prostate.

Participants completed questionnaires, providing details of their exercise levels about 27 months after their diagnosis and before any sign of their cancer recurring.

Researchers then recorded which men developed biochemical markers of prostate cancer recurrence - such as a rise in levels of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) protein - or needed a second round of treatment.

They found that men who walked 'briskly' for at least three hours per week - defined as a minimum rate of three miles per hour - were 57 per cent less likely to experience disease progression than those who only walked at an easy pace for less than three hours a week.

These benefits were found regardless of a patient's age at diagnosis, type of treatment or clinical features of their disease.

The findings, which are published in the journal Cancer Research, indicate that men with early-stage prostate cancer who regularly walk at a brisk pace may be less likely to see their disease spread.

Study author Dr Erin Richman, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF, said: "The important point was the intensity of the activity - the walking had to be brisk for men to experience a benefit.

"Our results provide men with prostate cancer something they can do to improve their prognosis.

"Walking is something everyone can and should do to improve their health."

The study follows previous research by senior author Dr June Chan, who found that men with prostate cancer were less likely to die from the disease if they exercised following their diagnosis.

Commenting on the latest findings, Dr Chan said: "Our work suggests that vigorous physical activity or brisk walking can have a benefit at the earlier stages of the disease."

Liz Woolf, head of Cancer Research UK's patient information website CancerHelp UK, said: "This is an interesting and encouraging study. We know there are many benefits to exercise and that it can help people to recover more quickly after cancer treatment, but it's difficult to set specific levels of exercise as everyone's needs and abilities are different.

"Just to be safe, it is important that people with cancer check with their doctor before taking up any new form of exercise."

References

Richman, E.L. et al. Physical Activity after Diagnosis and Risk of Prostate Cancer Progression: Data from the Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor. Cancer Research DOI:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-393