Prostate cancer is the second most common in men, after melanoma. If caught too late, the chances of survival are slim. This “silent killer” is slow growing in many cases. It is also hard to detect as it often causes no symptoms until the disease has reached advance stages. Though it runs in families and African-American men are more prone to it, there are no tests one can take to see if they are likely to develop prostate cancer. And until now, there has been no way of containing its spread outside of surgery or radiation therapy. Now a team of researchers from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK have made an exciting discovery. They found that exercise can help contain prostate cancer. Cancer Research UK funded this study. 50 men who had been diagnosed with localized prostate cancer participated. Half took part in an exercise program over the course of 12 months. The other half did not. The results for the group who did exercise were so dramatic, that many are calling for the National Health Service (NHS) to cover aerobic exercise programs for such men.
In this study 25 men took part in a weekly exercise program, while the other half were given information of what impact exercise can have on cancer. Patients were closely monitored including periodic PSA tests. Prostate specific antigen is the hormone a prostate tumor puts out, which ends up in the bloodstream. If more PSA is detected over time, it means that the cancer is growing or perhaps even spreading. Dr. Liam Bourke was the study leader. He said he and his team found that exercise can limit the spread of the cancer and even help to repair damaged DNA. Researchers were so encouraged by the results that a larger human trial is now in the works to investigate further. Though for men who exercise, these results are heartening, those who are age 40 and over are still encouraged to talk to their doctor or a urologist about when and how screening for prostate cancer should take place. Those who are at higher risk, such as African-Americans and men who have had a close relative with the disease, should consider screening even earlier.