There’s no doubt about it, physical activity and exercise are good for you. Not only does it improve your heart and overall health, exercise improves self-esteem, helps you lose or manage your weight, boosts your energy and improves your sex life. Surprisingly, exercise may also help to combat and prevent skin cancer.
A study completed in 2009 at Rutgers University showed that mice who exercised developed fewer and smaller skin cancer tumors. Researchers divided mice into two groups - both groups were exposed to UVB light. One group was given an exercise wheel but the other did not have access to exercise equipment. The study found that the group with access to the running wheel had 32 percent fewer tumors and the tumors they did have were about one-third the size of those in the group of mice without an exercise wheel.
Although the group of mice with the exercise wheel ate and drank more, their body fat levels were lower. Scientists believe that lower body fat may have some relevancy in preventing tumors or causing them to be smaller.
A follow-up study, also completed at Rutgers University looked at the effect of exercise combined with caffeine on skin cancer. In this experiment, mice were divided into four groups:
Plain water - no exercise wheel
Caffeinated water - no exercise wheel
Plain water - with exercise wheel
Caffeinated water - with exercise wheel.
The mice were then exposed to UVB radiation, the type of sun rays that cause skin cancer. Researchers monitored the mice for a 14 week period. At the end of the study, the group that received caffeinated water and had access to an exercise wheel had substantially fewer and smaller tumors than the other groups. Specifically, there were 62 percent less tumors and those tumors were up to 85 percent smaller.
The groups of mice that received either caffeine or exercise developed less tumors than the group who did not have caffeine or exercise, but the results were not as substantial as when exercise and caffeine were combined.
Researchers believe that the amount of body fat played a role in skin cancer development. Mice in the group with caffeine and an exercise wheel had less body fat than any other group. The scientists believe that because fat tissue releases inflammatory compounds these mice also had less inflammation. Previous studies have linked inflammation to skin cancer.
While it is still important to protect yourself from the sun’s rays using sunscreen, staying out of the mid-day sun and wearing appropriate clothing and hats, adding exercise and moderate amounts of caffeine (a study last year showed a positive impact on skin cancer for those who drank coffee) may not only help to reduce your overall risk but may help to lessen the severity of skin cancer, should it develop.
“Caffeine, Exercise May Cut Skin Cancer Risk,” 2012, April 5, Staff Writer, Medical News Today
“caffeine and Exercise: A Protective Mix Against SKin Cancer, in Mice,” 2012, April 4, Alexandra Sifferlin, Time Magazine
“Exercise Can Protect Against Skin Cancer,” 2006, May 15, Staff Writer, Phys.org
“Exercise Linked to Reduced Skin Cancer Risk,” 2006, May 13, Roy Britt, LiveScience
Published On: April 24, 2013