For the first time, experts have pinpointed the precise mechanism through which exercise can lessen your risk of developing bowel cancer and slow the growth of tumors
Physical activity promotes the cancer-fighting protein interleukin-6 (IL-6) to be released into the bloodstream, which aids in the repair of damaged cells’ DNA, according to Newcastle University researchers.
The findings, which were published in the International Journal of Cancer, shed new light on the role of moderate activity in the fight against cancer and could aid in the development of future treatments.
Dr. Sam Orange, a Newcastle University lecturer in exercise physiology, said: “More exercise, according to previous scientific research, is better for reducing colon cancer risk, as the more physical activity people engage in, the lower their odds of developing the disease. This is supported by our findings.
“Cancer-fighting chemicals released into the bloodstream, such as IL-6, have the opportunity to interact with aberrant cells, correcting their DNA and lowering cancer growth when exercise is repeated numerous times per week over a long period of time.”
The team from Newcastle and York St John universities recruited 16 men aged 50 to 80 who all had lifestyle risk factors for bowel cancer, such as being overweight or obese and not being physically active, for the small-scale trial, which is a proof of principle.
The participants rode on indoor cycles for a total of 30-minutes at a moderate intensity after providing an initial blood sample, and a second blood sample was taken as soon as they finished pedaling.
On a subsequent day, scientists took additional blood samples before and after the subjects rested as a control measure. Exercise was used to test if it changed the concentration of cancer-fighting proteins in the blood compared to resting samples, and it was discovered that the IL-6 protein increased.
Blood samples were mixed with bowel cancer cells in a lab and cell growth was monitored for 48 hours. They discovered that blood samples taken immediately after exercise inhibited the growth of cancer cells when compared to blood samples taken at rest.
Furthermore, the exercise blood samples lowered the extent of DNA damage, implying that physical activity can repair cells to form a genetically stable cell type.
According to Dr. Orange: “Our findings are particularly fascinating since they disclose a previously unknown mechanism for how physical activity reduces the risk of colon cancer that is unrelated to weight loss.
“Understanding these systems in greater depth could aid in the development of more specific cancer preventive exercise regimens. It could also aid in the development of medication treatments that imitate some of exercise’s health effects.
“Any form of physical activity, of any duration, can enhance health and lower the risk of bowel cancer, although more is always better. Sedentary people should get moving and include physical activity into their daily routines.”
Dr. Adam Odell, a Senior Lecturer in Biosciences at York St John University who collaborated on the study with Dr. Alastair Jordan and Dr. Owen Kavanagh, said: “Importantly, a more active lifestyle can help to reduce more than only the risk of bowel cancer. Higher levels of exercise have been linked to a lower risk of various malignancies, such as breast and endometrial cancers.
“Our study adds to existing national and worldwide efforts to boost exercise participation by identifying a mechanism via which regular physical activity can create anti-cancer effects.”
Incidence of bowel cancer
In the United Kingdom, bowel cancer is the 4th most frequent malignancy, accounting for 11% of all new cancer cases. Per year, around 42,900 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer, or nearly 120 people every day.
Physical activity is thought to cut the risk by 20%. It can be accomplished by going to the gym, participating in sports, or engaging in active transportation to work, such as walking or biking to work, but it can also be accomplished through household chores or employment, such as gardening or cleaning.
The researchers plan to conduct additional study to determine how exercise minimizes DNA damage in early-stage malignancies and to determine the most effective kind of exercise for disease prevention.