Reduced Prostate Cancer Risk Linked to Improved Fitness

According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, men who improved their cardiorespiratory health over time were less likely than other men to develop cancer of the prostate.

Research shows that physical fitness in the areas of cardiovascular and respiratory health is linked to reduced risk of cancer and better outcomes. However, studies that looked at prostate cancer from a single time point have produced mixed results.

Kate Bolam PhD, of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences GIH, in Stockholm, and her colleagues investigated links between changes to cardiorespiratory fit (CRF) and prostate cancer and mortality.

Researchers concluded that “in this study, the change in cardiorespiratory fit was inversely related to risk of prostate cancer, but not death.” The researchers concluded that improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness in men of working age should be encouraged, as they may reduce the prostate cancer risk.

Researchers used data from Health Profile Institute, Sweden for this prospective study. Analysis included data on over 180,000 men who took part in an occupational health assessment between 1982-2019. The national registry was used to collect data on prostate cancer mortality and incidence.

Men who underwent at least two tests of cardiorespiratory capacity, conducted at least eleven months apart, were included in the analysis. The test measures how well oxygen is delivered to muscles by the heart and lungs during exercise. The participants pedaled a stationary bicycle and their heart rates were used to estimate how much oxygen was consumed during exercise.

Men with a CRF change of 20% in one year were excluded from the study, resulting in a population of 57 652. At the start of the study, the average age was 41 and the body mass index (BMI) was 26. This was in the overweight range.

In a follow-up of an average of 6.7 year, 592 men (1% of the total) were diagnosed with prostate carcinoma after their last fitness tests, and 46 (0.08%) died from prostate cancer.

The authors of the study found that there was a positive correlation between increased cardiorespiratory health and a lower risk for prostate cancer, but not death. In general, better fitness was associated with a 2% reduced risk of prostate cancer. Men who improved their fitness by 3% or more per year were 35% less susceptible to prostate cancer than those whose fitness decreased by 3%. The authors suggested that there may not have been enough deaths from prostate cancer to detect a link between fitness and prostate cancer.

Researchers found that men who were moderately active at the start of the study showed greater reductions in prostate cancer risks. The risk of prostate carcinoma dropped 15% in this group. The risk reduction was more modest for people at either end of fitness spectrum.

Researchers believe that people who are already fit might not be able to improve their fitness further to a level where they can reduce risk. People with low fitness may be in worse health or have conditions such as obesity that increase prostate cancer risk.

More information about prostate Cancer.