A recent research study, as reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, revealed a noteworthy association between enhanced fitness levels and a reduced risk of prostate cancer in men. The investigation, conducted by the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences spanned the period from October 1982 to December 2019 and involved a comprehensive analysis of data from 181,673 men. Ultimately, the study cohort comprised 57,652 men.
In contrast to men experiencing a 3 per cent annual decline in fitness, those who achieved a minimum 3 per cent improvement in fitness over a three-year period demonstrated a remarkable 35 per centlower risk of developing prostate cancer. This risk reduction remained consistent regardless of the participants’ initial fitness levels before improvement.
The assessment of cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) served as a pivotal component of the study, gauging the efficiency of the heart and lungs in supplying oxygen to skeletal muscles during exercise. This measurement was conducted using a cycle ergometer or stationary bike, with participants required to undergo two CRF tests at least 11 months apart. Prior to the tests, participants adhered to a period of rest and stress avoidance, engaging in maximal exertion during the assessments.
Furthermore, the study delved into various factors such as physical activity, lifestyle, perceived health, and measurements of body mass and height. The findings consistently indicated that men who exhibited improvement in their second fitness test experienced a reduced risk of prostate cancer. This suggests that activities like cycling or running which enhance CRF, may contribute to diminishing the likelihood of prostate cancer.
The significance of this study lies in its status as the largest investigation examining the interplay between changes in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and cancer incidence and mortality. Dr. Kate Bolam, a co-author of the study, emphasized its groundbreaking nature, noting that it is the first study specifically exploring the impact of changes in CRF on prostate cancer incidence and mortality.