Could Aerobic Exercise Slow the Growth of Cancerous Tumors?

A study published this month suggests exercise may help slow tumor growth

It’s abundantly clear that regular exercise brings many benefits for our health and scientific studies are helping to expand that list all the time. One such study, published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute this month, suggests aerobic exercise may help slow the growth of cancerous tumors.

The study done on mice was broken up into two parts. For the first part, mice were infected with breast cancer and divided into two groups—one group remained sedentary while the other ran on wheels in their cages. While the tumors grew in both groups, the growth was far slower in the group that was active.

In the second part of the study, different mice were infected with breast cancer and divided into four groups—one that simply remained sedentary, one that was active, another sedentary group that was given a chemotherapy drug and remained sedentary while the last quarter received the drug and ran on the wheel. Upon reassessment, the sedentary mice that received no drug had the largest tumors and the mice that received the drug and ran on the wheel had the smallest tumors and the best results, by far.

Though this is only a small study done on a group of mice, researchers say this is a great sign. Though they can’t say for sure why exercise helped slow tumor growth, they hypothesize that the increased oxygen in the bloodstream (from aerobic exercise) played a role.

Researchers have already started follow-up experiments and say they hope to study how exercise affects other types of tumors going forward.