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How exercise reduces cancer risk


Fatigue and loss of functional capacity have often been implicated as some of the most distressing side effects reported by cancer patients and usually more severe while patients are receiving treatment.

Many may not know it, but  exercise does play a protective role and an effective management tool for cancer patient.

Research has shown that the relationship between exercise and improved physical and mental well- being is well established for healthy people as well as people with cancer.

Dr. Bakare Ummukulthoum, a Physiotherapist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH,  notes that although exercise in general promotes and enhances health studies have shown that exercise play a protective role in the development of cancer in some populations.


Ummukulthoum stated that movement alone promotes system function and thereby boosting immune system. “In recent times there are certain cancers when they are detected early can be cured. Exercise is found to be relevant when you have structured prescribed exercise t o help your system function better and immune system boosted. We all know that prevention is better than cure. Then if you have your immune system optimized then you can prevent cancer.

“But for those who already have cancer, well prescribed exercise can help them live a better quality of life .

She noted that although more patients are surviving cancer today, each survivors has experienced some type of radiation, chemotherapy or bitherapy which carry potentially harmful side effects like weakness, nausea, hair loss, pain, depression, culminating in a decline of life.

Many of the researches done on cancer and exercise has been in relation to breast cancer. For instance, the first real research linking exercise in 1986 with patients with breast cancer. More than 40 studies demonstrated that physical activity in patients with cancer improves their functioning and quality of life.

Researchers found that strenuous exercise more than five hours per week lowered the risk of invasive breast cancer, particularly of oestrogen receptor – negative invasive breast cancer, when compared with less activity.  Bakare said: “For patient to function effectively there are certain exercise prescription in that diseases state to help the person function effectively and optimised function within the limitation of the pathology of cancer.

Multiple studies have proven that exercise has sucessfully reduced cancer -related fatigue, leading some to postulate that exercise currently offers best nonpharmacologic option for reducing cancer – related fatigue. Unfortunately, the best timing, duration, or intensity of exercise is still unknown.


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