How is Exercise “Medicine” for Cancer Prevention & Treatment?

How is Exercise "Medicine" for Cancer Prevention & Treatment?

Exercise can be considered a form of “medicine” for cancer in several ways, as it can have numerous positive effects on cancer prevention, treatment, and overall well-being. While exercise is not a replacement for traditional cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, it can be an important complementary therapy that offers various benefits:

Cancer Prevention: Regular physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of developing certain types of cancer. For example, maintaining a healthy body weight through exercise can help lower the risk of obesity-related cancers like breast, colon, and uterine cancer.

Improved Treatment Tolerance: Exercise can help cancer patients better tolerate the side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It may reduce fatigue, improve mood, and enhance overall quality of life during treatment.

Enhanced Immune Function: Some studies suggest that regular exercise can enhance the immune system’s function. A strong immune system is vital for cancer patients, as it helps the body recognize and combat cancer cells.

Reduced Inflammation: Chronic inflammation is linked to cancer development and progression. Exercise can help reduce inflammation in the body, potentially slowing down the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Stress Reduction: Exercise is known to reduce stress and anxiety, which can be beneficial for cancer patients who often experience emotional distress during their journey.

Improved Cardiovascular Health: Many cancer patients may have cardiovascular issues as a result of cancer treatments or other factors. Exercise can help maintain or improve cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of heart-related complications.

Maintenance of Muscle Mass: Cancer treatments can lead to muscle wasting and weakness. Regular exercise, particularly resistance training, can help maintain muscle mass and strength.

cancer fatigueEnhanced Mental Well-being: Cancer can take a toll on a person’s mental health. Exercise can improve mood, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and enhance overall mental well-being.

Support for Long-Term Survival: Emerging research suggests that regular physical activity may be associated with better long-term survival rates for certain cancers.

It’s important to note that the type, intensity, and duration of exercise can vary depending on an individual’s health, cancer type, and treatment status. Before starting any exercise program, cancer patients should consult with a CETI Cancer Exercise Specialist to ensure that the exercise plan is safe and appropriate for their specific condition.