Lift Weights to Crush Cancer
Men who lift weights, and who have a high degree of muscular strength, have a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer. Similarly, men who have weaker handgrip strength have an increased risk of cancer. Exercise in general helps women fight breast cancer.
Recently, Jeroen van Vugt, a graduate student in Rotterdam, examined the patient profiles of 206 people with an aggressive type of colon cancer. All of them had undergone surgery and 44% of them lost enough weight to be diagnosed with sarcopenia, a degenerative loss of muscle mass.
Patients in this group were more prone to surgical complications and had additional surgeries 2.1 times more often than patients with a healthy amount of muscle mass.
Enthused by what he had discovered, van Vugt then followed another group of 816 colorectal cancer patients from whom doctors had removed affected organs. What van Vugt found was that people with more muscular density died less frequently than those with low muscle density.
There's a lot more positive research, too. Suffice it to say that the evidence that strength training prevents you from dying prematurely from cancer or anything else is overwhelming.
Whether it does this by increasing insulin sensitivity, reducing body fat, causing the release of the myokine IL-6 (which fights inflammation), or stimulating AMPK production (which starves cancer cells), isn't known for sure, but all those effects probably play a role.
The message, of course, is this: Keep pumping.
- van Vugt, J.L.A., "The impact of low skeletal muscle mass in abdominal surgery," Erasmus University Rotterdam, 2017, December 20.