Men can slash their odds of getting prostate cancer by a THIRD through simple lifestyle tweak

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Men could reduce their chances of developing prostate cancer by over a third through jogging, cycling or swimming more, research suggests.

Those who boosted their annual cardiorespiratory fitness by at least 3 per cent had a 35 per cent lower risk of developing – but not dying from – the disease.

Researchers analysed data on the physical activity levels, height and body mass index (BMI) of 57,652 men, alongside information on lifestyle and perceived health and the results of at least two cardiorespiratory fitness tests.

More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year on average in the UK, making it the most common cancer in men. Around 12,000 men die every year from the disease ¿ the equivalent of one every 45 minutes

 More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year on average in the UK, making it the most common cancer in men. Around 12,000 men die every year from the disease — the equivalent of one every 45 minutes

Annual cardiorespiratory fitness measurements were expressed by the amount of oxygen the body uses while exercising as hard as possible and divided into groups according to whether these increased by more than 3 per cent, fell by more than 3 per cent or remained stable each year.

They were then divided into groups – of low, moderate and high respiratory fitness – to see how changes affected both their chances of getting and dying from the disease.

During an average follow-up period of seven years, researchers found 592 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and 46 died from the disease.

Those whose fitness had improved by 3 per cent annually were 35 per cent less likely to develop cancer compared with those whose fitness had declined, according to the findings in BMJ.

Increasing cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with a 2 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.

But when 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.

Researchers from the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences said the results ‘highlight the important role of supporting the general public to increase their CRF (cardiorespiratory fitness) or aim to reach moderate fitness levels’.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK with 1 in 8 men being diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

The Mail has campaigned for better diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer for 25 years, encouraging men to stop ‘dying of embarrassment’.

Simon Grieveson, assistant director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘This is an interesting piece of research that adds to previous studies showing possible links between exercise and a lower likelihood of getting prostate cancer.

‘Regularly keeping fit and eating a balanced diet are good for every man’s general health and wellbeing – however, we don’t know definitively whether physical activity can lower a man’s risk of getting, or dying from, prostate cancer.’

Matt Lambert, at World Cancer Research Fund, said: ‘It is widely known that having a higher level of cardiorespiratory fitness is important for our health and longevity, but it can also be protective against certain diseases.

‘This insightful study adds to the evidence around how risk factors such as fitness may play a role in reducing men’s risk of prostate cancer.’

WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER?

How many people does it kill? 

More than 11,800 men a year – or one every 45 minutes – are killed by the disease in Britain, compared with about 11,400 women dying of breast cancer.

It means prostate cancer is behind only lung and bowel in terms of how many people it kills in Britain. 

In the US, the disease kills 26,000 men each year.

Despite this, it receives less than half the research funding of breast cancer and treatments for the disease are trailing at least a decade behind.

How many men are diagnosed annually?

Every year, upwards of 52,300 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK – more than 140 every day.   

How quickly does it develop? 

Prostate cancer usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs someone has it for many years, according to the NHS. 

If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, a policy of ‘watchful waiting’ or ‘active surveillance’ may be adopted. 

Some patients can be cured if the disease is treated in the early stages.

But if it is diagnosed at a later stage, when it has spread, then it becomes terminal and treatment revolves around relieving symptoms.

Thousands of men are put off seeking a diagnosis because of the known side effects from treatment, including erectile dysfunction.

Tests and treatment

Tests for prostate cancer are haphazard, with accurate tools only just beginning to emerge. 

There is no national prostate screening programme as for years the tests have been too inaccurate.

Doctors struggle to distinguish between aggressive and less serious tumours, making it hard to decide on treatment.

Men over 50 are eligible for a ‘PSA’ blood test which gives doctors a rough idea of whether a patient is at risk.

But it is unreliable. Patients who get a positive result are usually given a biopsy which is also not fool-proof. 

Scientists are unsure as to what causes prostate cancer, but age, obesity and a lack of exercise are known risks. 

Anyone with any concerns can speak to Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383 or visit prostatecanceruk.org

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