Here’s what the science shows: physical activity reduces cancer risk independent of body weight. So, what’s going on, asked Henry Thompson, PhD, a researcher at Colorado State University.
Dr. Thompson spoke energetically about the possible compounds that may be released when muscles contract and the effects of these compounds on cancer development.
One of the more interesting findings: more is not necessarily better. Extrapolating from his lab’s animal studies, if you were to use the health recommendation of 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity, there was definite protection in the 50-60 minute range. When they went much above that, said Dr. Thompson, they saw a loss of some of that activity.
Even with all its benefits, Dr. Thompson reminded us that physical activity is a “stress” on the body. And to reinforce just how challenging this research area is, he points out that even rats and mice react differently to stress.
It’s the last afternoon of the research conference and this session is all about physical activity. Tim Byers, MD, an epidemiologist at University of Colorado at Denver starts it off showing that some of the best evidence linking physical activity to lower cancer risk stems from AICR/WCRF’s 2007 expert report. The report conducted a systematic literature review of the evidence relating to physical activity and cancer risk. (Dr. Byers was a panel member on the report.)
The last couple years have only added to the evidence linking physical activity to lower cancer risk.
One of the more interesting findings, said Dr. Byers, was that physical activity was linked to substantially reducing cancer risk regardless of BMI. Physical activity – of all types — was found to reduce the risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers.
Fun Fact: Washington, DC –where AICR’s research conference is happening – ranked as the number one fittest city in America, according to American College of Sports Medicine. Visit here to to see where your city ranks.
Really fascinating talk by Johns Hopkins University researcher Peter L. Pedersen, PhD. Dr. Pedersen’s lab is studying a compound that disrupts cancer cells’ mitochondria, the energy-producing part of the cell. If cancer cells can’t produce energy – they die. But disrupting the mitochondria in cancer cells is challenging: there are two sources of energy in cancer cells – only one in healthy cells – and the trick is to target only the cancer cells, not the healthy one, said Dr. Pedersen.
Dr. Pedersen presented his lab’s findings on a compound called 3-BrPA for short, which appears to stop liver cancer cells from producing energy. 3-BrPA sneaks into a cancer cells’ mitochondria using the Trojan Horse strategy. It’s structurally similar to another compound (lactic acid) found in high amounts in cancer cells. The cancer cells mistakes 3-BrPA for lactic acid and transports it inside. There, 3-BrPA gets in the way of the two pathways in energy production.
In animal studies, Dr. Pedersen’s lab has had promising results. For example, out of 33 animals with advanced liver cancer: the tumors of the 19 animals treated with 3-BrPA all went away within 1 to 4 weeks; the tumors in the untreated animals continued to grow.
While exciting, right now this research is still only in the laboratory phase.
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