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Improving fitness may lower risk of prostate cancer by 35%: Study

IANS Feb 05, 2024

Increasing annual cardiorespiratory fitness by three per cent or more might lower the risk of developing prostate cancer by 35 per cent, suggests a new study.

The findings, published in the journal British Journal of Sports Medicine, prompted the researchers to conclude that men should be encouraged to improve their level of fitness to help lower their chances of getting the disease.

In the study, the researchers collected data on physical activity, lifestyle, perceived health, body mass, and height measurements, and the results of at least two cardiorespiratory fitness tests, which were measured by peddling on a stationary cycle, for 57,652 men out of a total of 181,673.

The men completed at least two fitness tests to determine how much oxygen they used during vigorous exercise; more oxygen equalled better fitness.

The findings were compared to those of men who later developed the disease. During an average period of nearly 7 years, 592 men (1 per cent of the total sample) were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 46 (0.08 per cent) died of their disease, the study mentioned.

"An annual percentage increase in absolute cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with a two per cent 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," the researchers said.

"When participants were grouped according to whether their cardiorespiratory fitness had increased, remained stable, or had fallen, those whose fitness had improved by 3 per cent or more a year were 35 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer than those whose fitness had declined, after accounting for potentially influential factors," they added.

The researchers highlighted that this is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish causal factors, added to which genetic factors have a major role in both a person’s cardiorespiratory fitness and cancer risk.

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