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Montclair NJ Lecture: The Importance of Exercise for Cancer Survivors


Cancer patients need to be active. I will review some of the research that shows how exercise can benefit cancer patients by reducing certain treatment side effects, increasing energy, decreasing stress, along with many other benefits.

The sooner you start to exercise the better. Starting before surgery and treatments and during treatment leads to a better recovery with less complications and medications.

How does exercise play a role in cancer prevention, control, and cancer outcomes?

During exercise, epinephrine is released which helps natural killer cell infiltration.

Exercise may restore normal gene function-may influence tumor suppressing genes. There is a relationship between hypomethylation and hypermethylation and cancer cells.

Exercise can affect hormone levels

Exercise reduces insulin, increases IGF-1, and decreases leptin

and may have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Research has shown that exercise can reduce the risk of getting some types of cancers. Last year, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that exercise lowers the risk of 13 types of cancers. This adds to the numerous reports that have been published on the benefits of exercise for cancers such as colon, breast, and endometrial cancer. Some cancers are well studied. An American Cancer Society’s newsletter stated “Among breast cancer survivors, a recent analysis shows that getting exercise after diagnosis was associated with a 34% lowered risk of breast cancer death, a 41% lower risk of dying from all causes, and a 24% lowered risk of breast cancer recurrence. Among colon cancer, studies suggest exercise cuts death from colon cancer and all causes, and cuts the risk of the cancer coming back by up to 50%.”

Numerous studies suggest that exercise is safe and helpful for many people with cancer and may lower the risk of some cancers. Other health benefits of exercise are weight control, cardiovascular health, increased bone density, and decreased fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression. Exercise can improve range of motion, improve endurance, and decease the risk of lymphedema.

Exercise helps to control obesity, which is correlated to several cancers. Studies have shown that weight gain increases the risk of cancer and the risk of recurrence during and after treatment. Since exercise is a crucial component of weight control which effects cancer risk, exercise needs to be considered as part of the treatment plan.

For the invitation to this lecture, contact me at caroljmichaels@gmail.com.


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