Researchers have uncovered a significant correlation between a man’s cardio fitness level and his risk of developing prostate cancer, suggesting that even modest improvements in fitness can yield notable benefits. Published on Jan. 30 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the report indicates that an annual increase in aerobic fitness of a mere 3% or more could potentially reduce the risk of prostate cancer by as much as 35%.
Led by Dr. Kate Bolam, an exercise oncology researcher affiliated with the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences GIH in Stockholm, the study sheds light on a previously underexplored relationship between fitness and prostate cancer risk. While the advantages of physical activity in lowering overall cancer risk are well-established, the specific impact of fitness on prostate cancer has remained less understood.
To delve into this connection, the researchers analyzed data from approximately 58,000 men documented in a national occupational health profile database. These men had undergone at least two cardio fitness tests, typically involving stationary bike pedaling. The database also contained information on their physical activity levels, lifestyle habits, and body mass index (BMI).
Grouping the men based on their fitness trends over time – whether their cardio fitness improved by 3% annually, declined by more than 3%, or remained stable – the researchers conducted a comprehensive analysis. Over an average follow-up period of nearly seven years, around 600 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and nearly 50 succumbed to the disease.
The findings revealed that men who experienced yearly increases in cardio fitness had a 2% lower risk of prostate cancer compared to those whose fitness remained stagnant or decreased. Moreover, those with a yearly increase in fitness of 3% or more were significantly less likely to develop prostate cancer, with a 35% reduction in risk observed.
However, while cardio fitness appeared to influence the risk of prostate cancer diagnosis, it did not demonstrate a statistically significant impact on the risk of mortality from prostate cancer. Additionally, the initial level of fitness at the beginning of the study period played a role, with only men starting at a moderate fitness level experiencing a noteworthy 15% reduction in prostate cancer risk.
The study underscores the importance of encouraging improvements in cardio fitness among adult men as a potential strategy for reducing prostate cancer risk. These findings provide valuable insights into the interplay between fitness and prostate cancer, paving the way for further research and interventions aimed at enhancing men’s health outcomes.
Are you going to change up your cardio fitness routine based on this study? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.