A recent large Swedish study found that men who increased their cardiorespiratory fitness had a significantly lower prostate cancer risk (when compared to men whose cardiorespiratory fitness stayed the same or declined) .
Men who increased their fitness by more than 3% over the course of a year had a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer during the 7 year follow-up. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured two times (baseline and a year later) by peddling on a stationary cycle and measuring absolute and relative VO2 max - the amount (volume) of oxygen the body uses while exercising as hard as possible.
By the way, other studies also find that cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with the risk of some cancers, as well as dying from certain cancer types. This study did not find an increase in cancer deaths, but it also only followed the men 7 years.
Bottom line: Increase your activity levels! Walking, hiking, bicycling gardening, sports, exercises - it all counts. You can do it!
An increase in annual cardiorespiratory fitness by 3% or more is linked to a 35% lower risk of developing, although not dying from, prostate cancer, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.The findings prompt the researchers to conclude that men should be encouraged to improve their level of fitness to help lower their chances of getting the disease.
There are relatively few known risk factors for prostate cancer, note the researchers. And while there's good evidence for the beneficial effects of physical activity on the risk of several cancers, the associations with prostate cancer are less clear-cut.
The database collected information on physical activity, lifestyle, perceived health, measurement of body mass and height, and the results of at least two cardiorespiratory fitness tests, measured by peddling on a stationary cycle, for 57,652 men out of a total of 181,673.
Annual cardiorespiratory fitness measurements were expressed as absolute and relative VO2 max—the amount (volume) of oxygen the body uses while exercising as hard as possible—and divided into groups according to whether these increased annually by more than 3%, fell by more than 3%, or remained stable.
And to assess whether change in fitness on prostate cancer risk varied by baseline fitness, three equally sized groups of low, moderate, and high cardiorespiratory fitness were created.
During an average period of nearly seven years, 592 men (1% of the total sample) were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 46 (0.08%) died of their disease.
An annual percentage increase in absolute cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with a 2% lower risk of prostate cancer, but not death, after accounting for potentially influential factors, including age, education level, year of test, weight (BMI), and smoking status.
When participants were grouped according to whether their cardiorespiratory fitness had increased, remained stable, or had fallen, those whose fitness had improved by 3% or more a year were 35% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those whose fitness had declined, after accounting for potentially influential factors.
When the participants were grouped by their cardiorespiratory fitness at their first assessment, the association between fitness and a reduction in prostate cancer risk was only statistically significant (15% lower) for those with a moderate level of fitness to begin with.