Increasing physical activity may reduce risk of prostate cancer, study finds

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"It adds to the evidence base that is building that shows that improving your fitness levels is a positive thing to do to reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer," says Kate A. Bolam Enarsson, PhD.

A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that increasing cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) over time is associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer among adult Swedish men.1

Data from 1 of the models showed that among patients with a moderate CRF at baseline, every standard deviation increase in absolute CRF reduced the risk of prostate cancer incidence by 16%.

Data from 1 of the models showed that among patients with a moderate CRF at baseline, every standard deviation increase in absolute CRF reduced the risk of prostate cancer incidence by 16%.

Overall, a model adjusting for covariates (baseline CRF, age, education level, year of test, body mass index, and smoking) demonstrated that percentage change in absolute CRF (L/min) was inversely associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer incidence (HR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.96 to 0.99), but not mortality. Further, participants marked as having an annual increase of 3% or more in absolute CRF had a significantly reduced risk of prostate cancer incidence compared with those marked as having a decrease of more than 3% (HR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.49 to 0.86) in the fully adjusted model.

“In large Swedish study of working aged men, we found that fitness was associated with a person’s risk of getting prostate cancer. That is, those who improved their fitness had a reduced risk of prostate cancer,” said lead author Kate A. Bolam Enarsson, PhD, in correspondence with Urology Times. “The unique aspect of our study is that we looked at change in fitness, which no one has done in prostate cancer (all have been measured at just 1 timepoint). So, it really helps to provide a more nuanced view to the evidence base, because it's very rare that a person's fitness levels stay the same over their lifetime. It adds to the evidence base that is building that shows that improving your fitness levels is a positive thing to do to reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer.” Bolam Enarsson is an exercise oncology researcher in Stockholm, Sweden

The investigators also conducted a sensitivity analysis to exclude patients who received a diagnosis of prostate cancer in the 2 years following their last health profile assessment (n = 103), which consisted of a questionnaire assessing physical activity, lifestyle, perceived health, body mass and height, and a submaximal ergometer CRF test. With these patients excluded, the association between change in absolute CRF and risk of prostate cancer remained significant.

Further, data from 1 of the models showed that among patients with a moderate CRF at baseline (32.4–40.7 mL/kg/min), every standard deviation increase in absolute CRF reduced the risk of prostate cancer incidence by 16%.

In total, the study included data from 57,692 Swedish men obtained from the health profile assessment database. Of those, 592 (1%) participants received a diagnosis of prostate cancer, and 46 (0.08%) men died due to prostate cancer.

The mean age among all participants was 41.4 years (range 18-79 years), and the median follow-up time for all participants was 6.7 years (SD, 4.9). Participants included in the study were labeled as having increased (+3%), stable (±3%) or decreased (−3%) CRF per year.

“Where previous cancer prevention recommendations have focused on physical activity, the findings of this study provide further clarity on the associations between CRF and cancer incidence in an area of research with conflicting results,” the authors concluded.1 “The results of this study highlight the important role of supporting the general public to increase their CRF or aim to reach moderate fitness levels.”

Reference

1. Bolam KA, Bojsen-Møller E, Wallin P, et al. Association between change in cardiorespiratory fitness and prostate cancer incidence and mortality in 57,652 Swedish men. Br J Sports Med. 2024:bjsports-2023-107007. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2023-107007

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