Exercise Decreases Mortality Rates in Prostate Cancer Patients

For prostate cancer survivors, exercise as moderate as a daily morning walk may improve chances of survival.

A new report, authored by Stacey A. Kenfield, ScD, of the Harvard School of Public Health, found that patients with prostate cancer who walked 4 or more hours per week had a 23% lower risk of dying from any cause than those who walked for less than 20 minutes. The study, which was presented at a conference of the American Association for Cancer Research, also examined the effects of vigorous exercise and discovered even greater benefits.

Kenfield used data gathered from 2686 prostate cancer patients between 1986 and 2008 to analyze the relationship between exercise habits and mortality rates. She found that vigorous exercise—defined by the study as 30 minutes per week of jogging, biking, swimming, or playing tennis—reduced the risk of dying from any cause by 35%.

Her findings also suggested that vigorous exercise, when done more frequently—at least 5 hours per week—may decrease patients’ risk of dying from prostate cancer in particular. Moderate physical activity was not found to be as beneficial in preventing death by prostate cancer, but it did lower overall risk. Power walking—90 minutes or more at a brisk pace—decreased patients' risk by 51% compared to walking 90 minutes or more at an easy pace.

According to the American Cancer Association (ACA), regular exercise can improve overall physical, mental, and emotional health in cancer patients. Before starting any exercise routine, patients should consult with their doctors to develop a program that works for them. For information on cancer and healthy lifestyles, visit the ACA resource center at www.cancer.org/foodandfitness.

For more information on cancer support organizations, advocacy groups, and prescription drugs, pharmacists, patients and caregivers can also consult the “Support and Assistance Guide for Cancer Patients,” a supplement published with the December 2009 issue of Oncology Net Guide. To receive a free copy, contact Nadine Hasenecz at nhasenecz@onclive.com or call 609-716-7777.