Research shows the effect of physical activity on the growth of bowel cancer cells



New research presented at the Physiological Society’s annual Physiology 2021 conference shows that molecules released into the bloodstream during exercise (such as small proteins) can act directly on cancer cells in the gut to slow their growth. .

Previous research has shown that regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing bowel cancer. It is believed that this happens primarily because physical activity can help individuals maintain a healthy body weight.

This new research shows that physical activity can reduce the risk of bowel cancer, even if physical activity does not lead to weight loss.

These are preliminary results, but a better understanding of the mechanisms linking physical activity and cancer risk will help develop the most effective exercise programs to prevent cancer development.

It could also help develop drugs that can mimic some of the benefits of exercise.

In addition, this research may eventually make exercise part of standard care in bowel cancer screening programs, potentially reducing the number of people who develop cancer. ?

The study was conducted in 16 male participants who had lifestyle-related risk factors for bowel cancer (all participants were 50 years or older, were overweight or obese, and did not exercise. regularly).

The researchers collected blood samples from the participants before and after 45 minutes of “moderate” intensity indoor cycling, and before and after a “control” experiment without exercise.

They assessed whether exercise altered the concentration of specific proteins in the blood.

Finally, they then added the liquid part of each blood sample containing the proteins (called serum) to cancer cells in the gut in the lab and monitored the growth of the cancer cells for 48 hours.

The main limitation of this research is that the cancer cells were grown in a dish under tightly controlled laboratory conditions. Cancerous tumors in humans are more complex and interact with the environment around them, such as surrounding blood vessels and immune cells. This means the findings may not necessarily apply to actual cancerous tumors – it’s something researchers will study in the future.

Dr Sam Orange, presenter and lead author of this research, said: As a result of this research, we want to understand a few more things, including which specific molecules in the blood are responsible for reducing the growth of cancer cells in the gut, and whether exercise performed at high intensity has a more pronounced effect on the growth of cancerous cells in the intestine than exercise performed at moderate intensity.


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