It’s been known for a long time that athletes get cancer at much lower rates than the rest of us. Until recently, that was chalked up to the fact that they eat healthier and generally don’t smoke, which definitely helps. But increasingly, it looks like exercise is a major key in protecting against cancer via immunotherapy, and you don’t need to be an athlete for it to help.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen injected mice with a chemical that causes liver cancer and put one group on the wheel on a regular basis while the other group sat around doing the mouse equivalent of writing posts about preventing cancer on the internet. While a full three-quarters of the mice who weren’t active got cancer, just a third of the mice who hit the wheel did. And the fit mice that did get tumors got smaller ones.
Why? It’s believed exercise has something to do with the production and distribution of natural killer, or NK, cells. NK cells have been known to be cancer-preventative for quite a while, and don’t need any drugs or medical stimulation to do the job. Just how and where NK cells are stimulated by exercise is up for debate, as some believe exercise brings out more of them while others believe they just circulate through the blood.
Still, the point is, exercise helps, and in fact it appears to work even if you already have cancer. And you don’t need to be at an Olympic level to get the benefits. Going on regular jogs won’t make your cancer go away, but it appears to help your body modulate its healing response, and will help with treatment and recovery — which is obviously a good thing.
(Via the Daily Mail)