Tumors have the ability to create their own ecosystems within the body. They send out biochemical signals that prompt the creation of new blood vessels, which then supply the growth with oxygen that allow it to expand. Oxygen, of course, is vital to any living tissue. An article recently published on the New York Times Phys Ed Blog reported an interesting and hopeful connection between aerobic exercise, cancer growth and sensitivity to chemotherapy. When female mice with breast cancer were observed, those that exercised had slower growth that those that did not exercise. Both groups of mice, those that exercised and those that did not, had growth of tumors but the group that exercised, the growth was significantly less claimed researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New Your City as they began to look into exercise for ways to increase blood flow to tumors. The science behind the creation of blood vessels in a tumor is that these blood vessels become tangled and overgrown, choking one another (becoming Hypoxic) and that is not necessarily a good thing because chemotherapy and radiation work better in conjunction with oxygen. Aerobic exercise is known to increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood to tissues, according to the researchers.
A second study was performed of 4 groups of mice. First group, no exercise. Second group, exercise. Third group, no exercise but was given chemotherapy. Fourth group, exercised and was given the chemotherapy. The first group, Large hypoxic tumors. The groups that exercised without the chemotherapy and the groups that received the chemotherapy had slower tumor growth. The fourth group, had exercise and chemotherapy experienced the smallest tumors by a significant margin.
Am I promoting chemotherapy here, not necessarily, there are many options with cancer treatments and all must be explored and decided upon. When chemotherapy is chosen, it is imperative that particular vitamins, herbs and nutrients be taken in therapeutic doses to help the body recover faster. Unfortunately, the medical industry scares the patients so much and they don’t always understand the significance of continuing to support the body in it’s deficiencies when chemotherapy is chosen. The point of this story is why exercise is important with or without a cancer diagnosis and the findings mean that exercise may change the biology of tumors, making them potentially easier to treat. One of the most interesting findings of the study is that in the group of mice that only exercised, blood markers indicated a high degree of tumor cell death. Just how exercise alone can prompt cancer cells to die is unknown at this point. Yes we care why it happens but just knowing that exercise can cause cancer cell death and how important it is, is very significant.
Relaxation and exercise when trying to heal is very important. Exercise increases blood flow, which then delivers oxygen more rapidly and effectively to our body tissues. Oxygen to the brain helps sharpen alertness, reduces anxiety and depression and delivers endorphin’s, which can elevate our mood. The cumulative result of all this helps the healing process along in the body, spirit and mind. Exercise may prove to be an essential component of cancer treatment.