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8 February 2012
Exercise's effect on prostate cancer revealed
by George Atkinson

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have identified 200 genes in men with prostate cancer that help explain how physical activity can benefit survival rates from the disease.

The new findings build on two previous studies that showed brisk walking or vigorous exercise for three or more hours a week was linked to a lowered risk of prostate cancer progression and death. Those earlier studies, however, offered no explanation as to why.

In the new study, 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.

The study revealed 109 genes were "up-regulated" (more active) and 75 were "down-regulated" (less active) among the men who exercised vigorously for at least three hours a week. Among the genes that exhibited greater expression were a number that already are thought to help thwart cancer progression, including the well-known tumor suppressor genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, as well as genes involved in cell cycle and DNA repair.

"Vigorous physical activity may provide clinical benefits for men diagnosed with earlier stage prostate cancer," said the senior author of the study, June Chan. "The finding suggests some interesting leads on mechanisms by which physical activity may protect against prostate cancer progression." Chan's team now plan an investigation with a larger population of men and also to examine the effects of physical activity among men who have already experienced cancer recurrence.

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Source: University of California - San Francisco

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