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Risk of prostate cancer can be 'cut in half' with gentle exercise

Caroline Allen
Contributor
Regular exercise can reduce risk of prostate cancer. [Photo: Getty]

New research from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and Cancer Research UK has revealed that men who keep active throughout their lives could cut their risk of prostate cancer in half.

It’s good news for people who don’t like going to the gym or partaking in high-intensity exercise, because the research found that even light exercise can halve the risk.

The study looked at physical activity levels of 79,148 men who have prostate cancer and 61,106 who don’t to come up with this conclusion.

Experts stated that light exercise like gardening and walking can have a “far larger” impact than what was first thought.

READ MORE: Walking at any pace lowers early death risk

The benefits of exercise is hardly new information, it’s widely cited as a key factor in improving our physical and mental wellbeing.

But, many people are under the misinterpretation that unless you’re profusely sweating in the gym, then the effects of exercise will make little difference to you.

The most active men in the study had a 51% decreased chance of getting prostate cancer.

The study was bolstered in its accuracy by the fact that the experts looked at the individual’s DNA sequence to determine their activity levels, rather than simply relying on what the person said.

READ MORE: Here’s how to check for prostate cancer

Study author and senior lecturer at Bristol Medical School Dr Sarah Lewis said: “Most of these men in this study were aged over 50 and we can assume they were not all marathon runners.”

“Our findings suggest that the more active you are, the better. We would recommend that men are as physically active as they can be.”

“Our evidence suggests being active will be beneficial in terms of their prostate cancer risk. But it doesn’t have to be vigorous activity or playing team sports, you just have to move about.”

It could be argued that genes could play a large part in the likelihood of getting prostate cancer, as this piece of research suggests. Dr Lewis said that whilst genes did play some role in the risk of prostate cancer, this was small when compared to the benefits of being physically active.

READ MORE: This 10-minute scan could tell if you are at risk of prostate cancer

“This study is the largest-ever of its kind which uses a relatively new method that complements current observational research to discover what causes prostate cancer.” Dr Lewis added.

“It suggests that there could be a larger effect of physical activity on prostate cancer than previously thought, so will hopefully encourage men to be more active.”

Currently, one in six men in the UK are at risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer. This could drop to one in 12 if exercise is added regularly, the WCRF suggests.

According to the NHS, prostate cancer symptoms can include:

  • needing to pee more frequently, often during the night

  • needing to rush to the toilet

  • difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)

  • straining or taking a long time while peeing

  • weak flow

  • feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully

  • blood in urine or blood in semen

READ MORE: Men who regularly smoke cannabis could be more likely to get cancer

Personal trainer, Dan Amos, suggests the benefits of light exercise for those who can’t enjoy more high-intensity exercise is “hugely important” especially as you get older.

“It will help you keep your joints and muscles strong but more importantly will help to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes to name a few. Having strong muscles will also decrease the likelihood of you having a fall.”

“You should aim to try something that will case a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart-rate. Like, brisk walking, mowing the lawn, swimming or cycling which will all contribute to your daily activity and help to improve your physical and mental health.”

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