This blog post was inspired by my aunt who was recently diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Ever since her diagnosis, she has completely changed her lifestyle; she’s eating everything raw and organically grown and exercising daily. Immediately after this change in lifestyle, her tumor markers had declined. In the past couple of months she had stopped exercising daily because it was hard to keep up with and when going into the doctors to get her tumor markers checked, she found them to have increased. Being frightened by this, she noticed the only thing she had changed was the exercise, so, she began to exercise daily once again. On her most recent visit to get the tumor markers checked, she realized they had gone down. My aunt was very happy and immediately made a correlation between her tumor markers and exercise. Now, I understand that this is anecdotal evidence, but this story sparked my curiosity and begged the question: Can exercise help fight breast cancer?
In this study it was concluded (and as you can see in the graph) that by exercising it improves the growth of tumor markers.
In another study that involves mice injected with breast cancer and aerobic exercise, it is found that this exercise can actually slow the growth of tumors. Tumors are usually in areas that are oxygen deficient however, chemotherapy works better when there is oxygen. With exercise, it increases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that goes through the body. As the article goes on, it gives the details of the experiment and meta-analyses and concludes that the mice that had the chemotherapy and exercised had the slowest tumor growth by far in comparison to inactive mice, solely active mice, and mice who received chemotherapy but were inactive. However, it was also evident in the blood markers that the exercise killed the tumors without the help of the chemotherapy. I understand that this study involves mice and not people but I don’t think exercise can hurt a person fighting breast cancer.
Not only is exercise shown to be effective in decreasing the tumor markers, but also in the prevention of breast cancer in general. In this article, it talks about how active women have been known to have a lesser probability of getting breast cancer.
I think all of these studies show significant evidence that exercising can aid in stopping cancer. I also think that there is a world of more knowledge to obtain on the topic, but I don’t think exercising can hurt you either way.