Moderate physical activity appears to reduce death rates among men diagnosed with prostate cancer that hasn’t spread, according to a 15-year study by Swedish researchers.
The results, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, are encouraging say experts, but need confirming in larger trials.
The study looked at 4,623 men in Sweden, who were diagnosed with localised prostate cancer between 1997 and 2002, and followed them until 2012.
They completed questionnaires about their levels of exercise. 561 of the men died during the study, 194 of them from prostate cancer.
Analysis showed that men who did the equivalent to walking or cycling for 20 or more minutes a day were 30 per cent less likely to have died from any cause, and 39 per cent less likely to have died of prostate cancer.
Lead author Stephanie Bonn, from the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, said the results extend the known benefits of physical activity.
“However, it is important to remember that our results are on a group level,” she cautioned.
“An individual’s survival depends on many factors, but physical activity is one factor that individuals can modify. Hopefully, our study can motivate men to be physically active even after a prostate cancer diagnosis.”
Julia Frater, senior cancer information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said: “There are many benefits to regular physical activity and this study suggests it might be helpful for men with localised prostate cancer.
But the findings were not conclusive, “so we need to see randomised trials to test this idea more thoroughly,” she added – something Cancer Research UK is actively funding through support for the PANTERA trial.
“Physical activity may also help patients in other ways, such as coping with the side effects of cancer treatment. So it seems sensible for men who are able, to be active if they can be,” added Frater.