How Exercising Help Shrink Tumors and Combat Cancer
Men and women exercising during their early years are at a low risk of getting cancer later in life. New studies are showing that exercise is an effective way to reduce the risk of cancer. Regular exercise has the potential to prevent cancer, improve the chances for a successful recovery, and reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. In this post, you will learn how regular exercises can help during and after cancer treatment.
How Exercises Can Help Prevent and Combat Cancer
Exercises or regular training helps combat cancer in many ways. Here are some of the exercising benefits that help prevent cancer:
1. Increased Digestion Speeds
Some of the foods that we eat and the water that we drink contain too many chemicals. When some of these chemicals get into the body, they increase the risk of developing cancer. Exercising helps speed up digestion and reduce the time these chemicals stay in the colon. That reduces the chances of your gut absorbing too much of these chemicals hence lowering the risk of cancer.
2. Hormonal Balance
Exercising can help regulate hormonal imbalances. Some of the hormones that are affected when you exercise include estrogen, testosterone, dopamine, and serotonin. These hormones play vital roles in the body. For your body to function well, all hormones need to be at their optimal levels. High amounts of certain hormones, such as estrogen, can increase the risk of developing several types of cancer.
3. Healthy Weight
Many people are exercising because they want to lose extra weight and stay fit. Losing your body weight helps reduce the risk of obesity that can contribute to several types of cancers. There is consistent evidence that obesity or high amounts of body fat can increase the risk of the following cancers:
- Endometrial cancer: Overweight and obese women are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop cancer of the lining of the uterus. Extremely overweight women are about 5 to 7 times more likely to develop this type of cancer. In other words, the risk of endometrial cancer increases with weight gain.
- Kidney cancer: Obese and overweight people are two times more likely to develop renal cell cancer, which is the most common type of kidney cancer. It is the high blood pressure and blood sugar that is associated with obesity that increases this type of kidney cancer.
- Liver cancer: Overweight or obese men are two times more likely to develop liver cancer compared with those with average weights.
- Breast cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- esophageal cancer
- Gastric cardia cancer
- Multiple myeloma.
How Obesity Increases The Risk of Cancer
1. Over Production of Estrogen
The fat tissue in overweight and obese women produces an excess amount of estrogen. High levels of estrogen in the body inhibit a protein known as MLK3 that causes normal cell death. Blocking this protein results in the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells and can also cause resistance to chemotherapy. High levels of estrogen in the body are associated with increased risks of ovarian, breast, endometrial, and several other types of cancer.
2. Chronic Low-level Inflammations
Obese individuals are at a high risk of chronic low-level inflammations that can cause DNA damage and result in cancer. Some of the conditions that increase the risk of chronic low-level inflammation in overweight individuals include hepatitis, gallbladder inflammation, and chronic ulcerative colitis.
3. Increased Blood Levels of Insulin
The role of insulin in the body is to control blood sugar levels. When the blood sugar level rises, insulin signals the liver, muscles, and fat cells to start taking in glucose from the blood.
Too much belly fat and excess body weight are the leading cause of insulin resistance. The body tries to fight back insulin resistance by releasing more insulin into the blood. The increased blood levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia) can promote the development of endometrial, kidney, colon, and prostate cancers.
4. Higher Level of Adipokines
Fat cells produce adipokines. It is a hormone that can either inhibit or promote cell growth. The levels of this hormone in the blood increase with the increasing body fats in obese individuals. Overweight people have high levels of leptin hormone and low levels of adiponectin hormone. Leptin promotes cell proliferation, while adiponectin hormone has antiproliferative effects.
Exercise For Cancer Patients
The advancements in medical technology are making it possible to treat cancer, especially at its early stages. However, making through the cancer treatment process is a great achievement. After successful cancer treatments, survivors start prioritizing things that can help prevent cancer from returning.
Regular exercises not only help prevent cancer but can also help you recover from it and keep it at bay. Staying active can help shrink tumors by encouraging Natural Killer (NK) cell mobilization. Being active during cancer treatment will make the treatment more effective and reduce the amount of time you will be in a hospital. Other benefits of exercise during cancer treatment include:
- Prevention of muscle loss
- Improved balance
- Reduced risk of anxiety and depression
- Prevention of weight gain
- Improve sleep
- Increase survival rates, especially in colorectal and breast cancer patients
What You Need To Do Before Exercising During Cancer Treatment
Before starting an exercise program, you should consult your doctor. If you were active even before the treatment, you should adopt a new exercise routine that is different from the previous one. Your doctor will advise you on whether exercising is safe for you or not depending on the following factors:
- The type of cancer that you have
- The treatment that you are using
- Your health condition
- Your fitness levels
- The side effects that you are experiencing
Your doctor might also recommend the best type of exercise for you or recommend a qualified cancer exercise specialist that will help you.
The Best Exercises During and After Cancer Treatment
There are several types of exercises that are safe and effective during cancer treatment. There are also those that you need to avoid. Here are some of the best workouts that you should include in your exercise routine during and after cancer treatment:
Radiation therapy can stiffen your muscles and reduce the range of motion of the affected joints. Stretching can help improve your posture and flexibility. It can also improve blood circulation and oxygen supply that will help your body repair itself faster. If the tumor was surgically removed, you should be careful when stretching to avoid breaking down the scar tissue.
2. Breathing Exercises
Many cancer patients are also struggling with depression and anxiety. Breathing exercises, such as pursed-lip breathing, Lion’s breath, coherent breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and deep breathing, can help reduce stress.
Breathing exercises are also helpful to cancer patients that are experiencing shortness of breath. They help move enough air in and out of their lungs to give them enough oxygen supply.
3. Aerobic Exercise
Cardio or aerobic exercises help strengthen the heart and lungs. They are the best for cancer patients that feel tired during and after the treatment. Walking at a moderate pace for 30 to 40 minutes 3 to 4 times every week is the best option for cancer patients and survivors. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercises per week.
4. Strength Training
Muscle loss and weakness are common side effects of cancer treatment. Resistance or strength training can help you maintain your muscle mass during and after cancer treatment. Maintaining your muscle mass during cancer treatment will help reduce other side effects such as loss of balance and fatigue. Strength training can also reduce the risk of osteoporosis, whose risk is increased by some types of cancer treatment. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two days of resistance training every week.
5. Balance Exercises
Loss of balance is a common side effect of cancer treatment. Balance exercises such as calf or heel raises, heel-toe walking, flamingo stand, chair leg raise, and tightrope can help you regain balance and mobility. Remember, maintaining a good balance during and after cancer treatment will help reduce the risk of falls that might cause injuries.
How to Exercise Safely During Cancer Treatment
If you are experiencing side effects from your cancer treatments, you need to take precautions when you are exercising. For example, if the treatment is causing bone loss, you should avoid exercises that strain your neck. If the treatment is affecting nerves in your hands, you should use weight machines instead of hand weights. Here are some of the other things that you can do to get the most out of your workout routine:
Exercise in a safe environment: Cancer treatment might have weakened your immune system. To reduce the risk of developing other diseases, you should avoid areas that germs spread easily, such as big gyms. If you are walking, you should choose a path that is safe for walking.
Progress slowly: Whether you were active before cancer treatment or not, you should build your level of activity and intensity slowly. That will help prevent injuries that can make it impossible to continue with your routine. You should also listen to your body to determine how long and hard you should be exercising.
Stay hydrated: Dehydration is common in cancer patients. Drink plenty of water when you are exercising to avoid the possible side effects of dehydration.
Add more proteins to your diet: A protein-rich diet will help your body recover after exercises. It will also help reduce muscle loss. You should consult an oncology dietitian to get help in developing your nutrition plan.