Exercise Protects Against Prostate Cancer - Mind And Muscle

Exercise And Prostate Cancer

At UCLA in 2004, researchers were looking at the effects of exercise on prostate cancer. In fact, exercise had a profound effect on all forms of cancer. Multiple bouts of exercise reduced the incidence of all forms of cancer. In fact, people who already had prostate cancer had a 300% increase in survival rates. The researchers wanted to see why cancer cells “self-destructed” in the face of exercise.

The Study

The study included 12 male subjects who participated in the Adult Fitness Program at UNLV. The average age of the subjects was 60 years. All the participants had been exercising a minimum of 10 years; they did intensive workouts of wither calisthenics or swimming laps in a pool. The researchers took blood sample from the test group and from 10 inactive males.

They then added androgen sensitive LNCaP prostate cancer cells to the blood samples. The they did the same test using LN-56 prostate cancer cells. These occur when scientists deactivate the tumour repression gene p53 in LNCaP cells. This gene becomes active when a cell mutates into a cancer cell. The p53 gene helps the cell repair its DNA, stops the cell’s growth and, when necessary, induces the cell to deactivate itself.


LNCaP cells grew 33 percent less fast in the blood of the active men. The cancer cells also self-destructed 371 percent more often. When the researchers studied the LNCaP cells, they noticed that the blood of the active subjects doubled the activity of the p53 gene.

The blood of the active men had less IGF-1. Highly active muscles absorb IGF-1 from the blood. Researchers think that the low IGF-1 level deactivated the p53 gene. It’s possible that other factors in the blood play a role too.


These results give us a possible mechanism to explain the epidemiological data that reports reduced levels of prostate cancer risk in men who are physically active”, the researchers conclude.


J Appl Physiol. 2004 Feb;96(2):450-4.

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