Older women in an exercise class do arm lifts with light free-weights

Looking for a good reason to step up your exercise and weightlifting routine? Most of us know that exercise is beneficial for lowering stress and increasing energy. But rigorous exercise and weight training are also proven to help prevent cancer, as well as slowing the progression and metastasis of cancers.

Read on to find out what they are – and then get yourself to the gym, stat!

4 Ways That Exercise Prevents Cancer

Here are some of the main mechanisms behind how rigorous exercise inhibits cancers:

1. Reduced Angiogenesis

Since cancer cells are rapidly reproducing, they need to recruit extra blood vessels to help with their high metabolism. When you exercise with weights, you limit the ability of tumours to hijack blood vessels. This is because the blood vessels are too focused on supplying blood to the muscles that have been stressed by the weight lifting.

2. Increased Lymphatic Flow

Our bodies have an extensive network of lymphatic vessels connecting the lymph nodes. However, lymphatic fluid is much like ‘maple syrup’ – it moves very slowly throughout the lymphatic system. This can allow cancer cells to remain and grow within the lymph nodes without being attacked by the immune system. This results in lymph node metastasis. Exercise is one of the ONLY ways to increase the flow of lymphatic fluid.

3. Metabolic Competition

When you exercise with weights, you cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. These tears are then repaired by the local stem cells using the growth factors and resources that cancer cells would normally use / hijack to grow and metastasize. This concept is known as “metabolic competition”.

4. Anti-Tumour Proteins

A recent study found that when a muscle contracts, as with weight lifting, a protein called interleukin-6 gets released. This protein happens to have strong anti-tumour capabilities.

An older woman stretches in a yoga position inside a studio.

Study: Fat Cells Interfere with Some Chemo Drugs

A recent study has also outlined another mechanism of how adipocytes (fat cells) actually interfere with certain chemotherapy drugs.

This study investigated how obesity alters the effectiveness of Daunorubicin (a chemotherapy drug) in the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (acronym: ALL). It found that adipocytes (fat cells) metabolize and inactivate Daunorubicin; and this, in turn, reduces the active drug concentration in the tumour microenvironment, potentially contributing to poorer survival outcomes. You can see the full study results here.

The study found that the presence of adipocytes significantly reduced the accumulation of Daunorubicin in the cancerous ALL cells. This is because the adipocytes absorbed the chemotherapeutic agent, removing it from the leukemia environment. In the study, the leukemia cells treated with Daunorubicin survived and proliferated better in samples that contained adipocytes.

And, lastly, the study found that adipocytes metabolized the Daunorubicin: enzymes in the fat cells actually changed the structure of the chemotherapy molecule, making it much less toxic to the leukemia cells.

In other words, this particular treatment (Daunorubicin) is going to be much more effective in an ALL patient who has fewer fat cells.

A hand touches a glowing point on a vertical DNA strand floating in place.

Explore ALL Your Treatment Options

If you’d like to know more about about how exercise and nutrition can benefit you in cancer treatment, management, and prevention, contact our precision oncology specialists today!

Register for a Precision Second Opinion with our medical team to discover what the best testing and treatment options are for your unique form of cancer.

CTOAM, Precision Oncology Specialists
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Published by on April 5, 2018