About our Guest Blogger:
David Haas joined the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance in 2011 as a cancer support group and awareness program advocate. In addition to researching the many valuable programs available to our site’s visitors, David often blogs about programs and campaigns underway at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, as well as creative fitness ideas for those dealing with cancer, while creating relationships with similar organizations.
Exercise Can Help Control Cancer
Cancer is one of the major killers of Americans today. Each year, hundreds of thousands die from lung cancer, prostate or breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and mesothelioma.
Exercise is a key component in the fight against cancer. Research has shown that exercise retards cancer growth at several different sites. Exercise also can help fight cancer through enhancing the activity of some cells in the immune system like natural killer cells (white blood cells that kill certain types of cancers), cytotoxic T cells and macrophages.
Animal studies of mice with malignancies indicated that exercising animals showed inhibited tumor growth, extended survival time and even occasional complete tumor regression when compared with sedentary, control animals. In addition, evidence suggests that lack of exercise puts men at heightened risk of colon cancer and women at heightened risk of reproductive system cancers.
Just as the idea of heart patients exercising shocked people 40 years ago, the notion of exercise for cancer patients might surprise many people today. While there are many side effects of cancer, the biggest problem for cancer patients isn’t hair loss or vomiting, but fatigue. There is no medical treatment for fatigue except rest. For many of these patients, the more they rest, the worse they feel.
While a certain amount of rest is good, too much may decrease energy levels. Exercise can counter this “fatigue spiral”, improve physical functioning and possibly enhance immune function.
There are many more beneficial effects of maintaining proper fitness during cancer. Exercise can help empower people with cancer. For many cancer patients, people are always doing things for them, but exercise is something they can do for themselves. It helps give people back a sense of control. In addition to helping them lose weight and increase strength and endurance, exercising makes them feel better. Physical activity can help counter the low self-esteem that may result from cancer treatments.
In general, cancer patients undergoing treatment should focus on light exercise to maintain strength and endurance, and to try to increase their level of function. Cancer survivors in remission should seek exercises that will return them to their former level of physical fitness.
For all cancer patients, an exercise program should include the three basic components of physical fitness: cardio endurance, muscle strengthening and flexibility. Flexibility training can be achieved through stretching exercises or by taking a stretching or yoga class.
Whether you’re trying to prevent cancer or recovering from it, consider improving your level of physical conditioning. Proper fitness could be one of the keys to keeping your body cancer free.