Doctor: Exercise reduces risk of some cancersPublished 10:17am Saturday, August 14, 2010
After hearing so many great stories of athletes and survival, I decided to get in touch with a local doctor to find out if exercise really does reduce the risk of cancer or at least aid in overcoming it.
It turns out, it does both.
According to Timothy Kozelsky, M.D., Radiation Oncologist at the Albert Lea Cancer Center, exercise reduces the risk of endometrial (cancer of the uterus), lung and prostate cancer.
The most drastic results came in endometrial studies, where athletes saw a 20-40 percent reduced risk of getting the disease.
The most rigorous exercisers see a 20 percent reduced risk of getting lung cancer and while there aren’t enough studies to show exact numbers, exercise does reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
But it may not be just these three.
“It stands to reason that if it’s helpful in these certain cancers, there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t also carry
to other cancers as well.
Good health is also important to battling cancer both physically and mentally.
Exercise bolsters the immune system and increases one’s stamina, two things that are very important while being treated for cancer.
“It’s a physical assault on the body,” Kozelsky said of cancer. “Having extra stamina, you’re able to tolerate a lot more (chemotherapy) than people who aren’t active.”
In my conversations with cancer survivors, I found that the psychological stress of the disease if often times stronger than the physical.
Athletes have an advantage here, too.
According to Kozelsky, even if there is no physical benefit to being active while battling cancer, there is always a psychological benefit.
Exercise releases endorphins, a hormone secreted within the nervous system. Endorphins can act as pain relievers and help decrease stress.
According to Kozelsky, these hormones are so powerful they often times carry marathon runners the final six miles of the race.
And, like many of the cancer survivors stated in this issue of the Tribune, being an athlete brings you more in tune with your body, making early detection much easier.
For example: “People with minimal body fat will be able to notice an enlarged lymph node easier,” Kozelsky said.
As a self diagnosed hypochondriac, I better hit the gym.