A new study offers a possible explanation of how exercise may improve outcomes for prostate cancer patients.
It's known that prostate cancer patients who are more active have a lower risk of cancer recurrence and cancer death than those who get little or no physical activity, but the reasons for this are unclear.
In this study, researchers looked at 572 prostate cancer patients and found that those who walked at a faster pace before their diagnosis had more regularly shaped blood vessels in their prostate tumors than those who walked slowly.
Specifically, men with the fastest walking pace (3.3 miles to 4.5 miles per hour) before diagnosis had 8 percent more regularly shaped blood vessels than those with the slowest walking pace (1.5 miles to 2.5 miles per hour), according to the study.
The new findings were scheduled for presentation this week at the American Association for Cancer Research -- Prostate Cancer Foundation conference, in San Francisco.
"Prior research has shown that men with prostate tumors containing more regularly shaped blood vessels have a more favorable prognosis compared with men with prostate tumors containing mostly irregularly shaped blood vessels," study author Erin Van Blarigan, an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, said in an AACR news release.
"Our findings suggest a possible mechanism by which exercise may improve outcomes in men with prostate cancer," Van Blarigan added. "Although data from randomized, controlled trials are needed before we can conclude that exercise causes a change in vessel regularity or clinical outcomes in men with prostate cancer, our study supports the growing evidence of the benefits of exercise, such as brisk walking, for men with prostate cancer."
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, Jan. 19, 2014