By Dr. Mercola
Mounting evidence continues to show that exercise may be a key component in successful cancer prevention and treatment. Studies have also found that it can help keep cancer from recurring, so it's really a triple-win.
Yet not surprisingly few oncologists ever tell their patients to engage in exercise beyond their simple daily, normal activities, and many cancer patients are reluctant to exercise, or even discuss it with their oncologist. Hopefully, you will not be one of them.
Most recently, research announced at the 2013 International Liver Congress1 found that mice who exercised on a motorized treadmill for an hour each day, five days a week for 32 weeks, experienced fewer incidents of liver cancer than sedentary mice.
Exercise may also be absolutely crucial in the treatment of depression, according to recent research.2 I've often stated this, and the science continues to support this advice.
Meanwhile, mounting evidence condemns the "evidence-based" drug paradigm, as reviews keep finding that large amounts of published drug research is either seriously flawed or outright fraudulent — motivated of course by the financial interests of the funding party.
Might Exercise Be a Key to Cancer Cure?
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a cancer that originates in your liver cells, and is one of the most common types of cancers. According to the featured article in Medical News Today,3 HCC accounts for just over five percent of all cancers worldwide, and causes an estimated 695,000 deaths annually.
According to the reported research,4 the first of its kind for this type of tumor, regular exercise may be the key to significantly reducing your chances for developing liver cancer.
The study involved two groups of mice: One group was fed a high fat diet, and then divided into two sub-groups — one that exercised and one that did not. The second group was fed a controlled diet, and also divided into sub-groups of exercise and non-exercise. According to the featured article:
"After 32 weeks of regular exercise, 71 percent of mice on the controlled diet developed tumors larger than 10mm versus 100 percent in the sedentary group. The mean number and volume of HCC tumors per liver was also reduced in the exercise group compared to the sedentary group."
In the high-fat diet group, exercise decreased the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Professor Jean-Francois Dufour told Medical News Today:
"We know that modern, unhealthy lifestyles predispose people to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which may lead to liver cancer; however it's been previously unknown whether regular exercise reduces the risk of developing HCC. This research is significant because it opens the door for further studies to prove that regular exercise can reduce the chance of people developing HCC.
The results could eventually lead to some very tangible benefits for people staring down the barrel of liver cancer and I look forward to seeing human studies in this important area in the future. The prognosis for liver cancer patients is often bleak as only a proportion of patients are suitable for potentially curative treatments so any kind of positive news in this arena is warmly welcomed."
Exercise Needs to Be Part of the New Standard of Care for Cancer
But the benefits of exercise are not limited to prevention alone. It can also help you recuperate faster and help prevent recurrence of cancer. A report issued by the British organization Macmillan Cancer Support5 just last year argues that exercise really should be part of standard cancer care. It recommends that all patients getting cancer treatment should be told to engage in moderate-intensity exercise for two and a half hours every week, stating that the advice to rest and take it easy after treatment is an outdated view.
The organization offers loads of helpful information about the benefits of exercise for cancer patients on their website, and also has a number of videos on the subject, available on their YouTube channel.6
According to Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support:7
"Cancer patients would be shocked if they knew just how much of a benefit physical activity could have on their recovery and long term health, in some cases reducing their chances of having to go through the grueling ordeal of treatment all over again..."
Indeed, the reduction in risk for recurrence is quite impressive. For example, previous research has shown that breast and colon cancer patients who exercise regularly have half the recurrence rate than non-exercisers.8 Macmillan Cancer Support also notes that exercise can help you to mitigate some of the common side effects of conventional cancer treatment, including:
✓ Reduce fatigue and improve your energy levels
✓ Manage stress, anxiety, low mood or depression
✓ Improve bone health
✓ Improve heart health (some chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy can cause heart problems later in life)
✓ Build muscle strength, relieve pain and improve range of movement
✓ Maintain a healthy weight
✓ Sleep better
✓ Improve your appetite
✓ Prevent constipation
Exercise Can Also Benefit Your Mental Health — Even When Forced
Many recent studies have shown that exercise provides a level of protection against stress-related disorders and depression. But could it still work if it was prescribed and forced upon you, by doctor's orders, for example; or if part of a mandatory program, such as high school students or military, who are required to participate whether they like it or not?
To find out, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder devised an animal study to determine whether rats that were forced to exercise would experience the same stress- and anxiety-reduction as those who were free to choose if and when to exercise.
The rats exercised either voluntarily or forcibly for six weeks, after which they were exposed to a stressor. The following day, their anxiety levels were tested by measuring how long they froze when placed in an environment they'd been conditioned to fear. The longer the rats remained frozen, like "a deer in headlights," the greater the residual anxiety from the previous day's stressor. According to the lead author:9
"Regardless of whether the rats chose to run or were forced to run they were protected against stress and anxiety. The sedentary rats froze for longer periods of time than any of the active rats. The implications are that humans who perceive exercise as being forced — perhaps including those who feel like they have to exercise for health reasons — are maybe still going to get the benefits in terms of reducing anxiety and depression."
Could 89 Percent of 'Landmark' Cancer Research Be Untruthful?
Findings such as the ones above, which demonstrate the significant benefits of lifestyle changes like exercise on your physical and mental health, become all the more important in light of mounting evidence showing that conventional drug treatment research has been sorely compromised by industry funding. As discussed in a recent GreenMedInfo article,10 the alleged "groundbreaking" results of nearly nine out of 10 cancer studies cannot be reproduced by any means!
"This means that to an extent, we have based our healthcare and clinical guidelines on fake studies that reported untruthful results in order to accommodate the interests of industrial corporations," Eleni Roumeliotou writes.
"Cancer is a major killer in US. The American Cancer Society reports that in 2012, more than half a million Americans died from cancer, while more than 1.6 million new cases were diagnosed. Given the seriousness of these statistics and the necessity of evidence-based medicine, it would make sense to trust that honest, objective research is tirelessly trying to find the best cancer therapies out there."
Alas, this trust in the scientific rigor of medical research appears to have been misplaced. First of all, nearly three-quarters of all retracted drug studies are due to falsification of data,11 meaning it's not even a matter of misinterpretation of data; rather the data used to draw conclusions are pure fiction. Large numbers of patients can be affected when false findings are published, as the average lag time between publication of the study and the issuing of a retraction is 39 months. And that's if it's ever caught at all.
Last year, former drug company researcher Glenn Begley also showed that the vast majority of the "landmark" studies on cancer are unreliable — and a high proportion of those unreliable studies come from respectable university labs. Begley looked at 53 papers in the world's top journals, and found that he and a team of scientists could NOT replicate 47 of the 53 published studies — all of which were considered important and valuable for the future of cancer treatments!
Part of the problem, they said, is that scientists often ignore negative findings in their results that might raise a warning. Instead, they opt for cherry-picking conclusions in an effort to put their research in a favorable light. The allegations appeared in the March 28 issue of the prestigious journal Nature.12
"It was shocking," Begley said.13 "These are the studies the pharmaceutical industry relies on to identify new targets for drug development. But if you're going to place a $1 million or $2 million or $5 million bet on an observation, you need to be sure it's true. As we tried to reproduce these papers we became convinced you can't take anything at face value."
As if that's not disturbing enough, Roumeliotou points out that Begley was not permitted to disclose which 53 cancer studies he evaluated and found to be without scientific merit. She writes:14
"...when they contacted the original authors and asked for details of the experiments, they had to sign an agreement that they would not disclose their findings or sources. This shows that the scientists, who published the tainted research, were all along, fully aware of the discrepancies of their articles and criminally conscious of the fact that they were misleading the medical and public opinion."
Your Lifestyle Has Tremendous Influence Over Your Health and Cancer Risk...
In light of the evidence supporting the notion that lifestyle changes, such as exercise, have a profound impact on human health and diseases of both mind and body, it would be foolish in the extreme to ignore such advice. Especially when you consider that the conventional drug paradigm is riddled with unreliable and outright fraudulent research — courtesy of the financial influence of the drug industry itself, which funds the vast majority of drug research.
Studies on exercise and other lifestyle changes however are less likely to be fraudulent simply because there's no money to be made by coming to the conclusion that exercise may be helpful — unless it was funded by a gym franchise, perhaps...
Whether you're trying to address your mental or physical health, I would strongly recommend you read up on my Peak Fitness program, which includes high-intensity exercises that can reduce your exercise time while actually increasing your benefits.
Now, if you have cancer or any other chronic disease, you will of course need to tailor your exercise routine to your individual circumstances, taking into account your fitness level and current health. Often, you will be able to take part in a regular exercise program -- one that involves a variety of exercises like strength training, core-building, stretching, aerobic and anaerobic -- with very little changes necessary. However, at times you may find you need to exercise at a lower intensity, or for shorter durations.
Always listen to your body and if you feel you need a break, take time to rest. But even exercising for just a few minutes a day is better than not exercising at all, and you'll likely find that your stamina increases and you're able to complete more challenging workouts with each passing day. In the event you are suffering from a very weakened immune system, you may want to exercise at home instead of visiting a public gym. But remember that exercise will ultimately help to boost your immune system, so it's very important to continue with your program, even if you suffer from chronic illness or cancer.