Sperling Prostate Center

Aerobic Exercise Discourages Prostate Cancer Metastasis

Are you a prostate cancer (PCa) patient on Active Surveillance? If so, do you ever worry if there’s a chance your cancer will progress and start to spread (metastasize)? A new study suggests that your best investment against metastasis may be a home treadmill or exercise bike so you can get a vigorous aerobic workout regardless of outdoor conditions.

We have already posted a blog on the quality of life and physical benefits for men with advanced PCa. What’s truly exciting about the research of Sheinboim, et al. (2022)[i] is their explanation of WHY intense aerobic exercise can prohibit metastatic cancer from occurring. Hint: it has to do with competition for resources.

Cancer wants the same goodies as healthy cells

Scientists have long observed that when tumor cancers begin to spread, they colonize organs and bones—but they don’t seem to be able to plant new tumors in muscles. In fact, cancer in muscle tissue can occur, but it is very rare. Professor Carmit Levy, a member of the Sheinboim study research team, remarked, “We said, ‘OK, there’s something about the activity of the muscle that maybe protects this organ from being a common site for metastasis for all types of cancers.’”[ii]

Now, in both human and lab animal studies, the team found that high intensity aerobic exercise increased demand for the “goodies” like glucose and other nutrients needed for such energy output. Under conditions of regular vigorous aerobic workouts, tissues dramatically increased consumption of compounds they metabolize for fuel. These same compounds are necessary for cancer cells to behave aggressively, one form of which is metastasis. Since there’s only just so much to go around, high consumption by healthy cells results in depriving metastatic tumor cells of these same resource. Without them, the cancer cells they are energy-disabled.

In the team’s study with humans, those who regularly engage in high intensity aerobics were found to have 72% less metastatic cancer than couch potatoes. In the lab experiments with mice, it was found that long term intense exercise not only changes muscle tissue as expected, but the internal organs to
which cancer usually spreads (lymph nodes, lungs, liver) also change. It’s as if they become “superhero” organs that uptake nutrients at such a rate that when metastatic disease tries to attack them, the cancer can’t compete effectively for fuel.

Other experts are interested in this study. Dr. Adrian Cristian, chief of cancer rehabilitation at Miami Cancer Institute, noted that more clinical trials are needed to explore how vigorous exercise might benefit PCa and others such as breast, colorectal, lung and gynecologic cancers. Specifically, he would like to identify which of them are “more sensitive to exercise as an intervention to minimize metastatic spread.”[iii] On our own part, for years we have been featuring blogs on the advantages exercise holds for PCa patients. We will continue to post news about this topic on our blog as it becomes available, so stay tuned.

NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing pelvic pain, or have any other health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.

[i]Sheinboim D, Parikh S, Manich P, Markus I et al. An Exercise-Induced Metabolic Shield in Distant Organs Blocks Cancer Progression and Metastatic Dissemination. Cancer Res. 2022 Nov 15;82(22):4164-4178.
[ii] JoJack, Beth. “Metastatic cancer risk reduced by as much as 72% with high intensity exercise.” MedicalNewsToday, Nov. 18, 2022.
[iii] Ibid.


About Dr. Dan Sperling

Dan Sperling, MD, DABR, is a board certified radiologist who is globally recognized as a leader in multiparametric MRI for the detection and diagnosis of a range of disease conditions. As Medical Director of the Sperling Prostate Center, Sperling Medical Group and Sperling Neurosurgery Associates, he and his team are on the leading edge of significant change in medical practice. He is the co-author of the new patient book Redefining Prostate Cancer, and is a contributing author on over 25 published studies. For more information, contact the Sperling Prostate Center.

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