About UCSF Search UCSF UCSF Medical Center

Vigorous Exercise Linked to Gene Activity in Prostate

By Jason Bardi | February 1, 2012

Vigorous Exercise Linked to Gene Activity in Prostate

June Chan, ScD

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have identified nearly 200 genes in the healthy prostate tissue of men with low-grade prostate cancer that may help explain how physical activity improves survival from the disease.

The study compared the activity of some 20,000 genes in healthy prostate tissue biopsied from several dozen patients.

The finding builds on two studies last year by UCSF and Harvard School of Public Health that showed brisk walking or vigorous exercise, such as jogging for three or more hours a week, was linked to a lowered risk of prostate cancer progression and death after diagnosis. Those earlier studies, however, offered no explanation as to why.

In the current work, to be presented Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 at an American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in San Francisco, the UCSF team teased out a molecular profile of 184 genes whose expression in the prostate gland is linked to vigorous exercise.

Understanding how the activity of these genes is impacted by vigorous exercise and how this might translate to a lowered risk of prostate cancer progression may help reveal new ways to manage the disease, said the senior author of the study, June Chan, ScD, the Steven and Christine Burd-Safeway Distinguished Professor at UCSF.

“Vigorous physical activity may provide clinical benefits for men diagnosed with earlier stage prostate cancer,” she said. “The finding suggests some interesting leads on mechanisms by which physical activity may protect against prostate cancer progression.”

Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. More than 217,000 U.S. men are diagnosed with the disease, and some 32,000 men die from prostate cancer, each year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Read more at Jason Bardi