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Exercise may inhibit cancer

Date: 30 October 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Exercise might prevent some types of cancer from growing and spreading, and while scientists still aren't sure why that is, new research offers a potential explanation.

 

Background

Exercise affects the production of several molecules and metabolites that activate cancer-fighting immune cells and thereby inhibit cancer growth.

 

Details

  • After intense physical activity, elevated levels of certain metabolites, like lactate, might be 'feeding' important immune cells in our blood.

  • The results are mainly based on experiments with mice, but preliminary tests in male humans suggests a similar mechanism could be at play.

  • Past research has shown that exercise is linked to a slightly lower risk of tumours in the bladder, breast, colon, kidney, and stomach, and there is a strong clinical evidence that physical movement can help some patients cope and recover. It might even extend their life.

  • Further research on animals has shown similar results, with regular exertion somehow reducing the growth of malignant tumours.

  • The cancer-fighting benefits of physical exercise could have something to do with changes in a person's weight, their hormones, or their immune system.

  • In mice, metabolites linked to exercise increased by up to 8-fold following exercise. As expected, T-cells in the blood showed an increased uptake of these products.

  • While research so far has mainly been focused on animal models, the new study conducted a preliminary test among humans that offered somewhat similar results.

  • If the same metabolites are increasing in humans like they do in mice, the team is hopeful that products of exercise like lactate may boost the immune system, making T-cells more effective at killing cancer in humans also.