Men Who Walk Fast Appear to Have Lower Risk of
Prostate Cancer Mortality
Physically fit men have better outcomes due to more
regularly shaped blood vessels
Jan. 20, 2014 - Men who walked at a fast pace prior
to a prostate cancer diagnosis had more regularly shaped blood vessels
in their prostate tumors compared with men who walked slowly, providing
a potential explanation for why exercise is linked to improved outcomes
for men with prostate cancer, according to results presented here at the
Foundation Conference on Advances in Prostate Cancer Research,
held Jan. 1821.
Men who engage in higher levels of physical
activity have been reported to have a lower risk of prostate cancer
recurrence and mortality compared with men who participate in little or
no physical activity. The biological mechanisms underlying this
association are not known.
Prior research has shown that men with prostate
tumors containing more regularly shaped blood vessels have a more
favorable prognosis compared with men with prostate tumors containing
mostly irregularly shaped blood vessels, said Erin Van Blarigan, Sc.D.,
assistant professor in the
Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of
California, 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
Our findings suggest a possible mechanism by which
exercise may improve outcomes in men with prostate cancer, continued
Van Blarigan. Although data from randomized, 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 Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which was
initiated in 1986, enables researchers to examine how nutritional and
lifestyle factors affect the incidence of serious illnesses, such as
cancer and heart disease. Every two years, participants receive
questionnaires that ask about diseases and health-related topics like
smoking, physical activity, and medications taken. Questionnaires that
ask detailed dietary information are administered every four years.
Van Blarigan and colleagues investigated whether
prediagnostic physical activity was associated with prostate tumor blood
vessel regularity among 572 men enrolled in the Health Professionals
Follow-up Study. Prediagnostic physical activity was determined through
analysis of questionnaire answers. Blood vessel regularity was
established by semiautomated image analysis of the tumor samples. Blood
vessels that are perfect circles are considered the ideal shape and
given a score of 1. Higher values indicate less regular blood vessels.
The researchers found that men with the fastest
walking pace (3.34.5 miles per hour) prior to diagnosis had 8 percent
more regularly shaped blood vessels compared with men with the slowest
walking pace (1.52.5 miles per hour).
Our study, which provides a potential explanation
by which exercise may improve outcomes in men with prostate cancer,
highlights the value of multidisciplinary collaborations between
laboratory, clinical, and population scientists to explore new pathways
by which lifestyle factors or other exposures may affect disease, said
Van Blarigan. It is reasonable to hypothesize that the same explanation
could exist for the beneficial effects of exercise in other cancers, and
it would be interesting to examine this in future studies.
This study was supported by funding from the
National Institutes of Health and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Van
Blarigan declares no conflicts of interest.
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