Exercise may help reduce cancer risk and increase survival

The concept of energy balance – that the number of calories consumed must be offset by the number burned – is gaining traction among researchers as a way to reduce cancer rates.

Regular physical activity is associated with reduced cancer rates and better survival rates for people who do get cancer, says Dr. David Euhus, professor of surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. There is a link between being overweight and an increased risk for breast and other forms of cancer.

“There are dozens of cancer prevention diets being promoted right now, but not one of them has ever been shown to reduce cancer rates in clinical trials,” Dr. Euhus says. “It’s all about lifestyle. Fad diets work for a time, but it is important to actually change the way you live.”

Overweight people tend to have elevated levels of insulin and other hormones that promote the growth of cancer cells. People who carry excess weight around their midsections seem to have the highest increased risk, Dr. Euhus says.

Experts recommend avoiding simple sugars found in desserts and candy, never eating more calories than one can burn off and exercising three to five times a week to break a sweat and elevate the heart rate.

“That sends a message to your cells that they had better behave themselves because all of the energy is going to other things and there is just not enough energy available for them to divide and make cancer,” Dr. Euhus says.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/cancer to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in cancer.

Media Contact: jeffrey.carlton@utsouthwestern.edu