Link between exercising and improved cancer survival rates

Dr Jane Walsh, founder and leader of the mobile Heath research group and joint leader of the Health and Well-Being research cluster at the Whitaker Institute, gave a talk at the Science Gallery in Dublin recently where she outlined the difference that even moderate exercise can make in saving lives in the battle against cancer. According to Dr Walsh, remaining physically active can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers and can also benefit patients currently undergoing cancer treatment.  Dr Walsh spoke about the clear evidence showing that physical activity can contribute to reducing the risk of developing breast, bowel and womb cancer, and may defend against lung cancer as well. Supervised exercise intervention in cancer patients under treatment has been shown to reduce fatigue and improve vitality, aerobic capacity, muscular strength and emotional well-being.  It is believed that exercise reduces cancer risk by lowering levels of insulin and other hormones in the body, which promote the growth of cancer cells when present in high levels in the body.  Physical activity also assists in the maintenance of healthy weight, another factor that can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Dr Walsh advocates a minimum of 30 minutes of activity a couple of days a week and says the more vigorous the activity, the more benefits it accrues.

This seminar was part of the Decoding Cancer series of talks organized by the Irish Cancer Society aimed at tackling the myths about cancer and highlighting the research advances being made in the areas of prevention, early detection, treatment and quality of life for survivors.