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08-12-2009 | Oncology | Article

Exercise lowers risk for death in prostate cancer patients


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MedWire News: Prostate cancer patients who exercise have a lower risk for death for at least 4 years after their diagnosis than those who do not exercise, say researchers.

The researchers found that patients who do 3 or more hours of metabolic equivalent (MET) activity per week – which means as little as 15 minutes per day – have a 35% lower risk for overall mortality than men who do not exercise at all.

“We saw benefits at very attainable levels of activity,” said Stacey Kenfield, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, who presented the findings at the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference in Houston, Texas, this week.

“The results suggest that men with prostate cancer should do some physical activity for their overall health,” she added.

Also, the more exercise men do, the greater the reduction in risk for overall death.

The cohort included 2686 prostate cancer patients enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, who had their physical activity levels repeatedly assessed before and after their cancer diagnosis.

Men who walked for 4 hours or more per week had their all-cause mortality reduced by 23%, compared with those who walked for less than 20 minutes per week, and walking for 90 minutes or more at a normal to very brisk pace reduced the all-cause mortality risk by 51% compared with 90 minutes walking at an easy pace.

A modest 12% reduction in prostate cancer-specific death was also seen in men who undertook 3 hours or more of physical activity per week, compared with men who did not exercise.

“This is the first large population study to examine exercise in relation to mortality in prostate cancer survivors,” said Kenfield. Previous research in the area has mostly focused on possible associations between exercise and prostate cancer risk, she noted.

Kenfield explained that exercise is known to influence a number of hormones that are hypothesized to stimulate prostate cancer, boost immune function, and reduce inflammation. However, she noted: “How these factors work together to affect prostate cancer biologically is still being studied.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2009

By Sarah Guy

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