How Does Exercise Reduce Cancer Risk?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 13, 2016

Group Yoga Class in Studio

Researchers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center are investigating the link between exercise and lower risk of cancer, including risk of cancer recurrence.

This much is known: A sedentary lifestyle raises the risk of cancer, while physical activity – even moderate exercise – can reduce the risk not only of developing cancer but having a recurrence following treatment. What’s not so clear is exactly why.

“It’s still a little unknown,” says Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, co-director of the Colon and Rectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, who has studied the relationship of exercise and colorectal cancer risk. In a previous study, he and Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, reported that in patients with stage III colorectal cancer, more physical activity was associated with a lower risk of cancer recurrence and mortality.

According to Dr. Meyerhardt and other researchers, one way exercise can influence cancer risk is by lowering the amounts of insulin and insulin-like growth factors in the bloodstream. These hormones stimulate tumor cells to spread and survive despite the body’s attempts to kill abnormal cells. Studies show physical activity can directly reduce insulin levels, and research on this link is continuing. Jennifer Ligibel, MD, a Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center oncologist and director of the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, led a study in breast cancer patients that showed that participation in an exercise program led to a reduction in insulin levels in previously inactive breast cancer survivors.

Read More »

Why Does Cancer Risk Increase as We Get Older?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 28, 2016

Cancer risk increases significantly after age 50, and half of all cancers occur at age 66 and above.

Cancer risk increases significantly after age 50, and half of all cancers occur at age 66 and above.

Today’s post originally appeared on Insight, the blog of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Age is the biggest single risk factor for cancer. Risk increases significantly after age 50, and half of all cancers occur at age 66 and above. According to the National Cancer Institute, one quarter of new cancer diagnoses are in people aged 65 to 74.

The median age of diagnosis varies in different cancer types – 61 years for breast, 66 years for prostate, 68 years for colorectal, and 70 years for lung – but the disease can occur at any age. Bone cancer, for example, is most frequently diagnosed in people younger than 20, and neuroblastoma is more common in children than in adults.

Read More »

Cocoa and Multivitamins: Two Keys to Better Health?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 23, 2014

Does the cocoa bean contain heart health benefits?

Is there something valuable for your heart inside the cocoa bean?

Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Mars, Incorporated are partnering to conduct the largest-ever clinical investigation of the heart health benefits of cocoa flavanols – especially their role in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from cardiovascular disease.

Flavanols are natural compounds that can be found in cocoa beans and a variety of other food sources. Although cocoa flavanols can be found in some forms of chocolate, they can be provided in significantly higher concentrations as a capsule or powder (mix). In this particular trial, the cocoa flavanols will be provided in a capsule and compared to a placebo.

Read More »