Exercise and restricted diet reduce colorectal polyps and improve survival in animal study
A report published on May 13, 2006 online in the journal Carcinogenesis revealed that mice who exercised and who consumed restricted diets experienced fewer colorectal polyps (which are a precursor to colorectal cancer) than mice that had no access to exercise.
Lisa H. Colbert, who is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s department of kinesiology and her colleagues used seven-week-old male mice with mutations to the APC gene, which predisposes both humans and mice to the development of intestinal polyps. For the current study, 23 mice had access to a running wheel while a group of 24 control mice had no access to exercise. Both groups were allowed to eat as much as they wanted for three weeks, after which the exercising mice were placed on diets that were restricted to the intake received by the control group during the previous week, resulting in negative energy balance.
At the conclusion of the ten week study, six control mice had died of anemia resulting from colorectal polyps, yet all of the mice in the exercising group were alive. Mice who exercised had 25 percent fewer polyps than mice who did not, and the amount of polyps were inversely correlated with daily running distance. Exercising mice weighed less but had more body fat at the end of the study than those who did not exercise, which was attributed to better health. Although the exercising mice had higher levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 and corticosterone which are normally associated with cancer, there was no correlation with the number of polyps in this group.
Dr Colbert commented, "Our studies are relevant for humans in that these mice have a mutation in one of the same genes, APC, that is also mutated in human colon cancer. The protective effect of exercise and lower body weight in our mice is consistent with epidemiological evidence in humans that suggests higher levels of activity and lower body weight reduces the risk of colon cancer."
"These data suggest that voluntary exercise that induces a negative energy balance protects against the onset of cancer in these mice, but that the mechanism is unlikely to be related to body composition, IGF-1 or corticosterone," she concluded.
Identifying and eradicating the causative factors responsible for the development of colorectal cancer is of the utmost importance to those individuals who are at high-risk for developing the disease and to those who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. These factors include diet, lifestyle, exercise, tobacco and alcohol use, parity, hormone use, energy intake, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use.
The following is a summary of what an individual with colorectal cancer (either colon cancer or rectal cancer) should consider and discuss with their physician, as an adjuvant approach to conventional colorectal cancer therapy:
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