For the first time, scientists have defined the exact mechanism by which exercise can reduce your risk of colon cancer and halt tumor growth
According to Newcastle University experts, physical exercise boosts the release of the cancer-fighting protein interleukin-6 (IL-6) into the bloodstream, which aids in the repair of damaged cells’ DNA.
The findings, which were published in the International Journal of Cancer, shed new insight on the function of moderate activity in cancer prevention and treatment development.
“More exercise, according to prior scientific study, is better for reducing colon cancer risk, as the more physical activity people engage in, the lower their likelihood of having the disease,” said Dr. Sam Orange, an exercise physiology lecturer at Newcastle University. Our findings back up this assertion.
“Cancer-fighting molecules released into the bloodstream, such as IL-6, have the ability to interact with aberrant cells, repairing their DNA and slowing cancer progression when exercise is done multiple times per week over time.”
For the small-scale trial, researchers from Newcastle and York St John University recruited 16 men aged 50 to 80 who all had lifestyle risk factors for colon cancer, such as being overweight or obese and not being physically active.
After providing an initial blood sample, the participants cycled indoor cycles for a total of 30-minutes at a moderate intensity, and a second blood sample was taken as soon as they ceased pedaling.
As a control measure, investigators obtained blood samples before and after the patients rested on a subsequent day. Exercise was employed to see if it affected the concentration of cancer-fighting proteins in the blood, and it was observed that the IL-6 protein rose when compared to resting samples.
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In a laboratory, blood samples were combined with colon cancer cells, and cell development was tracked for 48 hours. When compared to blood samples taken at rest, they discovered that blood samples taken shortly after exercise prevented the growth of cancer cells.
Furthermore, the exercise blood samples showed less DNA damage, showing that physical activity can help cells repair themselves and establish a genetically stable cell type.
“Our findings are especially exciting because they reveal a previously undiscovered mechanism for how physical activity reduces the risk of colon cancer that is independent to weight loss,” says Dr. Orange.
“A better understanding of these systems could aid in the development of more targeted cancer-prevention exercise programs.” It may also help in the development of pharmacological treatments that mimic some of the health benefits of exercise.
“Any type of physical activity, for any length of time, can improve health and reduce the chance of bowel cancer, though more is always better.” People who are sedentary should get up and move around, and include physical activity into their regular routines.”
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“Importantly, a more active lifestyle can help to reduce more than just the risk of bowel cancer,” said Dr. Adam Odell, a Senior Lecturer in Biosciences at York St John University who collaborated on the study alongside Dr. Alastair Jordan and Dr. Owen Kavanagh. Exercise has been associated to a lower risk of a variety of cancers, including breast and endometrial cancers.
“By finding a mechanism via which regular physical activity can have anti-cancer effects, our study adds to ongoing national and international initiatives to increase exercise participation.”
Incidence of bowel cancer
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United Kingdom, accounting for 11% of all new cancer cases. In the United Kingdom, around 42,900 people are diagnosed with cancer each year, or nearly 120 people per day.
Physical activity is said to reduce the risk by 20%. It can be done by going to the gym, participating in sports, or taking active transportation to work, such as walking or biking to work, but it can also be done by doing home chores or working in a cleaning or gardening job.
The researchers plan to undertake more research to see how exercise reduces DNA damage in early-stage cancers and to figure out what type of exercise is most effective for disease prevention.