While one cancerous tumour already represents a daunting scenario, pesky cancer cells can break off from the original tumour and enter your bloodstream, spreading to other parts of your body. Once the cancer has travelled like this, it becomes known as a metastatic or stage 4 cancer. Fortunately, research has identified a simple activity that could reduce your risk of this outcome by a whopping 72 percent.
With the NHS warning that one in two people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime, the dismal diagnosis can strike anyone.
What’s worse, cancer can sometimes spread from the original site where it started to other parts of your body becoming metastatic.
But a study, published in the journal Cancer Research, brings some good news and makes a strong case for picking up aerobic exercise.
The new research from Tel Aviv University found that this type of activity can reduce the risk of metastatic cancer by 72 percent.
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The magic of this exercise comes down to its ability to increase the glucose (sugar) consumption of internal organs, which consequently reduces the availability of energy to the tumour.
The lead researchers Professor Carmit Levy and Doctor Yftach Gepner said: “Studies have demonstrated that physical exercise reduces the risk for some types of cancer by up to 35 percent.
“This positive effect is similar to the impact of exercise on other conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
“In this study we added new insight, showing that high-intensity aerobic exercise, which derives its energy from sugar, can reduce the risk of metastatic cancer.
“If so far the general message to the public has been ‘be active, be healthy’, now we can explain how aerobic activity can maximise the prevention of the most aggressive and metastatic types of cancer.”
What’s more, the researchers suggested that keeping active is better at cancer prevention than medicines or any other medical intervention.
“It must be emphasised that physical exercise, with its unique metabolic and physiological effects, exhibits a higher level of cancer prevention than any medication or medical intervention to date,” said Doctor Gepner.
In case you’re not aware, aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, includes the likes of brisk walking, swimming, running, or cycling.
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During aerobic activities, your blood pumps quickly throughout your body and your lungs take in more oxygen, leaving your heart working harder.
Doctor Gepner added: “If the optimal intensity range for burning fat is 65-70 percent of the maximum pulse rate, sugar burning requires 80-85 percent – even if only for brief intervals.
“For example: a one-minute sprint followed by walking, then another sprint.
“In the past, such intervals were mostly typical of athletes’ training regimens, but today we also see them in other exercise routines, such as heart and lung rehabilitation.”
The research team combined an animal model approach, where mice trained under strict exercise conditions, with data from human volunteers.
Looking at 3,000 individuals before and after running, the human data was monitored for about 20 years.
This allowed the team to conclude that those who regularly take part in aerobic activity at high intensity have a lower risk of metastatic cancer.
The animal model showed a similar outcome, which enabled the researchers to identify its underlying mechanism.
Their data also suggested that aerobic activity significantly reduced the development of metastatic tumours in the lymph nodes, lungs, and liver.
Professor Levy said: “Our study, examining the internal organs, discovered that exercise changes the whole body, so that the cancer cannot spread, and the primary tumour also shrinks in size.”