By Jason Bardi, UCSF News Office | May 25, 2011
A study of 1,455 U.S. men diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer has found a link between brisk walking and lowered risk of prostate cancer progression, according to scientists at UCSF and the Harvard School of Public Health.
The scientists found that men who walked briskly -- at least three miles per hour -- for at least three hours per week after diagnosis were nearly 60 percent less likely to develop biochemical markers of cancer recurrence or need a second round of treatment for prostate cancer.
"The important point was the intensity of the activity - the walking had to be brisk for men to experience a benefit," said Erin Richman, ScD, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF who is the first author on the study, published today in the journal Cancer Research. "Our results provide men with prostate cancer something they can do to improve their prognosis."
An earlier study, published earlier this year by UCSF's June Chan, ScD, and collaborators at the Harvard School of Public Health, showed that physical activity after diagnosis could reduce disease-related mortality in a distinct population of men with prostate cancer. The new study complements this finding, as it was the first to focus on the effect of physical activity after diagnosis on early indications of disease progression, such as a rise in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood levels.
"Our work suggests that vigorous physical activity or brisk walking can have a benefit at the earlier stages of the disease," said Chan, the Steven and Christine Burd-Safeway Distinguished Professor at UCSF and senior author of both studies.
Common Form of Cancer Among Men
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer among men in the United States, and more than 217,000 U.S. men are diagnosed with the disease every year according to the National Cancer Institute. Last year alone 32,050 men died from the disease.