I have previously written about the role of exercise in lowering the risk of developing prostate cancer (See http://sperlingprostatecenter.com/news-flash-exercise-may-decrease-risk-prostate-cancer/). In fact, quite a bit of research has been published about actual changes in the gene mechanisms that control tumor activity as a result of exercise. As a firm believer in our ability to prevent prostate cancer—or any cancer, for that matter—I was excited to read about a new study being launched by the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre.[i]
This study goes beyond preventing prostate cancer from developing. Instead, the goal of the study is to enroll 900 men with advanced prostate cancer (spread beyond the gland) and explore the life-prolonging effects of intense exercise.
Dr. Fred Saad of the Centre is leading the international experiment, done in collaboration with Robert Newton, professor at the Edith Cowan University Exercise Medicine Research Institute in Australia. The study has already begun enrolling men in Ireland and Australia, and eventually 60 sites will be involved in recruiting patients into it. Dr. Saad has such faith in exercise that he describes it as acting like an anticancer drug in the battle against existing metastatic disease. Think about it: if you had cancer that had spread to your bones, would you add exercise into your treatment program if you knew it could help control the disease progression?
According to Dr. Saad, the men in the study will continue on their medical protocol. According to the study design, half will receive psychosocial support with general exercise guidelines and recommendations to do with as they wish. The other half will participate in a specially designed workout that includes an hour a day of supervised aerobic and resistance training for three days each week (for the first 12 months). At the start of the second year, they will hopefully continue on their own. Both groups will be tracked in terms of their quality of life, and physical measures (blood samples and muscle biopsies) will be used to analyze the benefits of exercise.
Professor Newton explained, “We will evaluate quality of life, appetite, and treatment tolerance in relation to their improved physical condition.” According to Dr. Saad, “People with cancer develop all sorts of complications related to metastases, such as fractures or severe pain. It is hoped that exercise will strengthen muscles and bones.” In addition to helping patients do better with their therapy, Drs. Saad and Newton’s main hypothesis is that exercise has a direct impact on the prostate cancer cells themselves. If so, this clinical study will add greatly to the evidence that for men with advanced prostate cancer, exercise extends life while boosting quality of life.
If you know someone with advanced prostate cancer who might be interested in participating, you can get more information on the clinical trial locations at http://www.ClinicalTrials.gov: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02730338?term=INTERVAL+and+prostate+cancer&rank=2.
[i] “Exercise, Future Anticancer Therapy?” Eureka Alert, May 24, 2016. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-05/uomh-efa052016.php