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Exercise fights cancer, both in the long and short term

January 03, 2023
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Exercise fights cancer, both in the long and short term

Changing the chemical environment within the body and increasing the body's ability to fight and prevent cancer is possible and can be achieved by following an active lifestyle that includes moderate physical activity. In fact, physical exercise stimulates the release of beneficial substances that counteract tumor formation and growth. And what has just been said is also true after just one training session. This very important result emerged thanks to the work of an Australian team from Edith Cowan University and published in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases belonging to the prestigious Nature group (Kim et al, Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis, Nov 2022).

The benefits of physical exercise

Physical exercise is one of the pillars of a healthy and long-lived life. An active lifestyle, in fact, counteracts the risk of cardiovascular problems, diabetes, depression and reduction of muscle mass. But that's not all, physical activity also helps fight against tumors.

Physical activity against tumors, the role of myokines

The same Australian group from Edith Cowan University had already observed, in a previous study, that adhering to a regular exercise program allowed, in six months, to modify the chemical environment of the body and fight tumor growth in people who have been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. In particular, scientists have observed an increase, following regular physical exercise, of particular proteins, called myokines. Myokines are produced by muscles and can suppress tumor growth and even actively fight cancer cells, stimulating a number of anti-cancer processes. But the benefits of exercise aren't just seen over the long term. In the fight against cancer, in fact, every exercise counts. And this is where the research we are talking about today comes into play.

Every physical activity performed for more than 20 minutes fights tumors, the study

Australian scientists wanted to test the effects of physical exercise in the short term in case of diagnosis of advanced stage prostate cancer. Nine men with advanced prostate cancer were therefore recruited. All study participants were asked to take part in a 34-minute stationary bike session. The volunteers underwent blood tests before the exercise session, immediately after and after 30 minutes of the exercise session. Well, after this single session of physical activity all the volunteers showed an increase in the levels of anticancer myokines. The amount of myokines detected in the blood was then able, in vitro, to reduce the growth of prostate cancer by 17%. Myokine levels and their ability to fight the tumor returned to normal after 30 minutes.


The study indicates that physical activity is also important when it comes to helping the body fight and prevent tumors. In the specific case, the study focused on prostate cancer but, as the authors of the study themselves point out, what has been observed applies to all types of cancer. Other studies will follow to understand exactly how much exercise and of what type is required to increase myokine levels in an effective way to modify the chemical environment of our body and put it in the conditions to fight or prevent any cellular degeneration. Meanwhile, however, Australian scientists indicate that it would be a good choice to ensure at least 20 minutes of physical activity, if not every day at least most days. In addition, physical activity should be intense, in order to increase muscle mass and the capacity for interventions against tumors of our internal pharmacy, such as riding a stationary bike, participating in gymnastic sessions in the gym, or even going for a light jog.

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