Exercise and Cancer
For years we’ve known that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle by keeping us strong and reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It releases endorphins that make us feel better, physically and mentally – even if when we’re huffing and puffing we’re feeling a little tired.
We also know that physical activity is associated with reduced risk of colon, breast, uterine, lung and prostate cancers. But having cancer doesn’t change the equation. Indeed, for patients diagnosed with and treated for cancer, a life of regular physical activity can become even more critical to having a life with quality.
Physical activity is a critical component of energy balance, a term researchers use to describe how weight, diet and physical activity influence health. Indeed, researchers at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center are currently conducting a pair of studies to assess the effects of healthy diets and exercise programs on women at risk of breast cancer and breast cancer survivors.
In a seminal series of papers published in 2012 in the journal Lancet, scientists from multiple institutions, including the UC San Diego, concluded that physical inactivity could explain more than 5 million deaths worldwide each year — a number comparable to mortality figures associated with smoking.
“A surprising finding was that inactivity explains 10 percent of deaths from both breast cancer and prostate cancer,” said Jim Sallis, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and director of the Active Living Research program at UC San Diego. “Thus physical inactivity is a major contributor to common cancers of men and women.”
Regular exercise prevents obesity, which increases a person’s risk of a host of different cancers. It helps reduce inflammation, also linked to cancer, while boosting the body’s immune system function, which helps prevent cancer.
How much exercise do you need?The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention broadly recommends adults engage in “moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week” (about 30 minutes per day) or “vigorous-intensity” exercise for at least 75 minutes per week. The former is defined as activities like walking briskly, dancing or riding a bike on flat terrain. The latter refers to stuff like race-walking, high-impact aerobics, robustly climbing stairs or participating in fast-moving sports like basketball or soccer.
The best time to begin a lifelong anti-cancer exercise program is today, right now. Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, the best time is still today, right now. Often, patients become sedentary after a cancer diagnosis and treatment. They’re going through or have been through a lot. It might seem too much to launch into an exercise regimen. People tend to slow down.
As contrary as it may seem, physical activity is the most effective long-term solution to fatigue, a common characteristic of cancer and its treatment. How and how much you exercise while undergoing cancer treatment depends upon you, your condition, treatment protocols and your doctor. You may need to take special care to monitor issues like blood counts, hydration or new or unexplained symptoms.
Exercise for some cancer patients can carry a slightly higher risk for heart problems. You’ll likely need to adjust your intensity — at least at first. You’ll have to adapt. For example, older cancer patients with impacted bones or problems like arthritis or peripheral neuropathy (numbness in hands or feet) should only do exercises with minimal risk of falling or injury. Patients undergoing radiation should not expose treated skin to excessive sunlight or chlorine in swimming pools.
Regular exercise boosts cancer survivorship. One study, for example, found that women diagnosed with breast cancer who exercised moderately (the equivalent of walking three to five hours per week at an average pace) had better survival rates than comparable sedentary patients. Physical activity has also been shown to help patients cope psychologically with the rigors of their disease and treatment.
Everyone has BRCA genes, but some people have mutations (changes) in these genes which increase their risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Find out your family history of breast and ovarian cancer, then talk to your doctor about your own risks for these diseases.
By Elizabeth Mendes
Most Americans born into the generations that came after the Baby Boom have gone their entire lives aware that smoking can cause lung cancer. But this fact has not always been well-known – and at one time it wasn’t known at all.
Actually, it wasn’t even until cigarettes were mass produced and popularized by manufacturers in the first part of the 20th century that there was cause for alarm. Prior to the 1900s, lung cancer was a rare disease. Turn-of-the-century changes though, gave way to an era of rapidly increasing lung cancer rates. New technology allowed cigarettes to be produced on a large scale, and advertising glamorized smoking. The military got in on it too – giving cigarettes out for free to soldiers during World Wars I and II.
Cigarette smoking increased rapidly through the 1950s, becoming much more widespread. Per capita cigarette consumption soared from 54 per year in 1900, to 4,345 per year in 1963. And, lung cancer went from rarity to more commonplace – by the early 1950s it became “the most common cancer diagnosed in American men,” writes American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Otis Brawley, M.D., in an article published November 2013 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
However, though tobacco usage and lung cancer rates increased in tandem, few experts suspected a connection, according to Brawley and his co-authors.
From American Cancer Society
Each year, about 33,000 new cases of cancer are found in parts of the body where human papillomavirus (HPV) is often found. HPV causes about 26,800 of these cancers.
Number of HPV-Associated Cancer Cases per Year
An HPV-associated cancer is a cancer that is diagnosed in a part of the body where HPV is often found. These parts of the body include the cervix, anus, penis, vagina, vulva, and oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils). Researchers use cancer registry data to estimate the number of HPV-associated cancers in the United States by looking at cancer in parts of the body and cancer cell types that are more likely to be caused by HPV. Cancer registries do not routinely collect data on whether HPV is in the cancer tissue. CDC studies1 2 have reported the number of HPV-associated cancer cases per year, and these studies have more information on how HPV-associated numbers were calculated.
Number of HPV-Attributable Cancer Cases per Year
An HPV-attributable cancer is a cancer that is probably caused by HPV. HPV causes nearly all cervical cancers and many cancers of the anus, penis, vagina, vulva, and oropharynx. CDC studies3 4 5 used population-based data from cancer tissue to estimate the percentage of these cancers that are probably caused by HPV.
Time To Screen Tool
(From Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care)
(From American Cancer Society)
Note: Click on picture for original version with better resolution
An Unexpected Choir with a Powerful Message
The audience at the São Paolo’s Museum of Art was waiting to listen to the famous São Paulo University choir. Instead, a choir of 12 laryngectomy patients went on stage and performed All You Need is Love by the Beatles using esophageal voice, prosthesis and electronic larynx. Most of the singers lost their voice due to larynx cancer, as a result of smoking. At the end of the performance, they displayed the sign: LISTEN TO THIS CHOIR’S VOICE: DON’T SMOKE
Cancer mortality rates at five, 10, 15, and 20 years after diagnosis.
Rates of indoor tanning among female high school students lowest in states with multiple restrictions on youth access
Female high school students in states with indoor tanning laws, particularly those with parental permission laws and age restrictions, were less likely to engage in indoor tanning compared to students in states without any laws, according to a CDC study published online by the American Journal of Public Health.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Approximately 3.5 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancers are treated annually, and over 60,000 melanomas are diagnosed annually. While most cancers have been on the decline since the 1990s, melanomas, which are the most fatal of skin cancers, have been on the rise, especially among young women. Increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation through indoor tanning may be partially responsible for the continued increase in melanoma.
Researchers, led by Dr. Gery Guy at CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, analyzed results of the 2009 and 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Surveys of U.S. high school students in grades 9-12, and examined the details of each state’s indoor tanning laws. Among high school students, 23.4 percent of females engaged in indoor tanning, and 6.5 percent of males engaged in indoor tanning.
Dr. Guy and his colleagues looked at state indoor tanning laws, and the relationship between teens’ tanning behaviors and state laws. System access laws included warning statements and signs, limited advertising about the benefits of tanning, mandatory protective eyewear, operator-required incident reports, and penalties for violations. Youth access laws included parental permission for minors and age restrictions.
The odds of female students engaging in indoor tanning in states with any indoor tanning laws were 30 percent less than those in states without any indoor tanning laws. The odds of female students in states with systems access, parental permission, and age restriction laws engaging in indoor tanning were 42 percent less than those in states without any laws. Laws were not associated with the prevalence of indoor tanning for male youth.
States with laws that included systems access, parental permission, and age restrictions had the lowest rates of indoor tanning among teen girls. This is the first study to look at the impact of such laws on indoor tanning rates.
“State indoor tanning laws, especially age restrictions, may be effective in reducing indoor tanning among our nation’s youth,” said Gery Guy, PhD, health economist and the study’s lead author. “We need to address the harms of indoor tanning, especially among children. Indoor tanning laws can be part of a comprehensive effort to prevent skin cancers and change social norms around tanned skin.”
The numbers of states implementing new laws, particularly age restrictions, have increased substantially in recent years. Currently, six states (California, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont), restrict indoor tanning among minors aged younger than 18 years. A number of states are either considering new youth access legislation or strengthening existing laws.
The World Health Organization recommends that no one under the age of 18 years use indoor tanning. The Food and Drug Administration has proposed reclassifying indoor tanning devices from low- to moderate-risk devices. The proposed order advises against the use of indoor tanning among minors aged younger than 18 years.