Men who walked at a fast pace prior to prostate cancer diagnosis had more regularly shaped blood vessels in their prostate tumors compared with men who walked slowly, providing a potential explanation for why exercise is linked to improved outcomes for men with prostate cancer.
The findings were presented at a recent American Association of Cancer Research-Prostate Cancer Foundation Conference on Advances in Prostate Cancer Research in San Diego.
“Prior research has shown that men with prostate tumors containing more regularly shaped blood vessels have a more favorable prognosis compared with men with prostate tumors containing mostly irregularly shaped blood vessels. In this study, we found that men who reported walking at a brisk pace had more regularly shaped blood vessels in their prostate tumors compared with men who reported walking at a less brisk pace,” said study author Erin Van Blarigan, ScD, of the University of California, San Francisco.
“Our findings suggest a possible mechanism by which exercise may improve outcomes in men with prostate cancer. Although data from randomized, controlled trials are needed before we can conclude that exercise causes a change in vessel regularity or clinical outcomes in men with prostate cancer, our study supports the growing evidence of the benefits of exercise, such as brisk walking, for men with prostate cancer,” Dr. Van Blarigan added.
Dr. Van Blarigan and colleagues investigated whether prediagnostic physical activity was associated with prostate tumor blood vessel regularity among 572 men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which enables researchers to examine how nutritional and lifestyle factors affect the incidence of cancer and other serious illnesses. Prediagnostic physical activity was determined through analysis of questionnaire answers. Blood vessel regularity was established by semiautomated image analysis of the tumor samples. Blood vessels that are perfect circles are considered the ideal shape and given a score of 1. Higher values indicate less regular blood vessels.
The authors found that men with the fastest walking pace (3.3–4.5 miles per hour) prior to diagnosis had 8% more regularly shaped blood vessels compared with men with the slowest walking pace (1.5–2.5 miles per hour).
“Our study… highlights the value of multidisciplinary collaborations between laboratory, clinical, and population scientists to explore new pathways by which lifestyle factors or other exposures may affect disease. It is reasonable to hypothesize that the same explanation could exist for the beneficial effects of exercise in other cancers, and it would be interesting to examine this in future studies,” Dr. Van Blarigan said.
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