Exercise may improve the prognosis of prostate cancer patients by affecting blood vessels in their tumours, according to a US survey just published.
The study looked at 572 prostate cancer patients taking part in a US lifestyle and health investigation called the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
Men with the fastest walking pace – between 3.3 and five miles per hour – prior to diagnosis had 8% more regularly shaped tumour blood vessels than the slowest walkers who ambled at 1.5 to 2.5 mph.
Physically active men with prostate cancer have a lower risk of recurrence and death from the disease than those living sedentary lives, but until now the reason has remained a mystery.
"Prior research has shown that men with prostate tumours containing more regularly shaped blood vessels have a more favourable prognosis compared with men with prostate tumours containing mostly irregularly shaped blood vessels," said lead scientist Dr Erin Van Blarigan, from the University of California at San Francisco.
"In this study, we found that men who reported walking at a brisk pace had more regularly shaped blood vessels in their prostate tumors compared with men who reported walking at a less brisk pace.
"Our findings suggest a possible mechanism by which exercise may improve outcomes in men with prostate cancer. Although data from randomised, controlled trials are needed before we can conclude that exercise causes a change in vessel regularity or clinical outcomes in men with prostate cancer, our study supports the growing evidence of the benefits of exercise, such as brisk walking, for men with prostate cancer."
The results were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research - Prostate Cancer Foundation Conference on Advances in Prostate Cancer Research in San Diego, US.