Dispelling the Myths: Exercise & Cancer

My friend, Melanie Bowen has been researching the connection between Cancer and Exercise and here is her very insightful article addressing various misconceptions. I am happy to feature such quality guest posts on my website. Read on…

More than ten million people around the world are diagnosed with some type of cancer. With early detection and treatment improvements, a growing number of people are expected to survive the disease. However, there are misconceptions abound regarding cancer, especially about how it starts and spreads.

 Exercise & Cancer Myths

Many hold inaccurate views about the effects of exercise on cancer. A recent British study found a general lack of public awareness about the role of exercise in cancer development, treatment, and survival. Conventional medical wisdom advised cancer patients to rest and avoid activity, and many people still embrace this advice. However, newer research contradicts the traditional beliefs about exercise and cancer.

According to the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES), physical activity offers many significant benefits during and after cancer treatment. Researchers found notable improvements in aerobic fitness, lower body strength, fatigue, depression, anxiety and overall quality of life. Exercise may also improve survival for those in cancer recovery.

 Exercise & Side Effects 

Modern cancer treatments are powerful and effective. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other treatments fight cancer cells and keep them from proliferating to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, most cancer therapies damage healthy tissues as they destroy harmful cancer cells. This can lead to numerous adverse side effects.

Cancer patients often regard treatment side effects as worse than cancer itself. Fatigue, pain, nausea, diarrhea, eating difficulties, mood disorders and cognitive issues are just some of things they must contend with. Both British and American studies have shown exercise to have a positive effect on adverse treatment symptoms.

Exercise & Cancer Survival

Cancer fitness also has benefits for cancer survivors. Contrary to common belief, the cancer battle is not over when the last treatment ends. Although completing the cancer treatment is a major accomplishment, survivors take on a new focus: keeping their cancer from returning.

Several studies show that exercise can reduce the recurrence of certain types of cancer. Colorectal cancer is one example, as discussed in the “Journal of Clinical Oncology.” Exercise may also have a preventative effect on the development of secondary cancers.

Exercise and Palliative Care
Exercise programs are helpful in palliative care too. Even the smallest movements can help people with rare forms of mesothelioma, advanced pancreatic cancer and other late-stage diseases. End of life cancer fitness focuses on pain and symptom management, comfort and QOL issues. It can play an emotionally healing role in those who face cancer death.

Melanie is currently a Master’s student with a passion that stems from her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis. She often highlights the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness. To read more from Melanie, visit her blog    for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.


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