Exercise and Cancer
The New Scientist in February carried an interesting report entitled “Exercise slows tumour growth in marathon mice”. The mice all of whom had cancer tumours ran quite long distances on an exercise wheel. This exercise “prevented new tumours from growing and slowed the growth of existing tumours by up to 60%”.
Mice may be very distantly related to us but their immune systems work in a very similar way.
Interestingly exercise has already been shown to increase the activity of our body’s natural killer cells that are a known defense against cancer.
If you add the other benefits of exercise it’s amazing that everyone isn.t exercising every day.
Lets take some examples.
Heart and Blood Vessels
Exercise protects our blood vessels from disease, lowers resting blood pressure and strengthens heart muscle. In fact the health benefits of exercise are so over-whelmingly positive. on the heart and blood vessels that a leading researcher on the cardiovascular system stated:
“Regular aerobic exercise should be viewed as a “first line” strategy for prevention and treatment of arterial aging and a vital component of a contemporary public health approach for reducing the projected increase in population cardio-vascular disease burden”
It makes our bones stronger and a good example of this is the finding that the bone mineral density of the playing arm of a professional tennis player can be up to 32% higher than that of the non-playing arm.
Osteoarthritis is a common problem for older people caused principally by the cartilage covering the ends of bone at the joints getting thinner.
The only thing that stimulates the cartilage to get thicker is compression and movement. So, for instance, walking will stimulate the growth of cartilage in the hips while cycling stimulates growth of cartilage in the knee joints.
Yes even the brain benefits. Aerobic exercise causes the release of a chemical called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor that stimulates the production of new brain cells and new connections between brain cells making learning and memory easier. Very important for people of my age.
There are also benefits for the lungs and of course our muscles.
Colin Sutherland March 2016
References: .”Professor Douglas R. Seals. J Appl Physiol 2014. New Scientist 20/02/16