Friday, May 29, 2009

Men with big muscles cut cancer risk by 40 per cent

This is so tediously stupid. Has it occurred to any of these righteous Swedes that you probably have to be in pretty good health to start with in order to undertake long-term weight training? It is most likely the good health that they began with that accounts for their lower incidence of cancer, not the weight-training

Men with stronger muscles from regular weight training are up to 40 per cent less likely to die from cancer than men who do not pump iron, according to new research. The findings, by an international team of researchers, suggest muscular strength is as important as staying slim and eating healthily when it comes to protecting the body against deadly tumours. The scientists who came up with the findings are recommending men weight train at least twice a week, exercising muscle groups in both the upper and lower body.

In recent years, experts have recommended a healthy diet and lifestyle - including regular aerobic exercise such as jogging or cycling to reduce the risks of the disease. But the latest study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, suggests it may be just as important to build up muscle strength.

A team of experts, led by scientists from Sweden's Karolinska Institute, tracked the lifestyles of 8,677 men aged between 20 and 82 for more than two decades. Each volunteer had regular medical check ups that included tests of their muscular strength. Between 1980 and 2003, researchers monitored how many developed cancer and subsequently died from it. The results showed men who regularly worked out with weights and had the highest muscle strength were between 30 and 40 per cent less likely to lose their life to a deadly tumour.

Even among volunteers who had excess tummy fat or a high body mass index, regular weight training seemed to have a protective effect. In a report on their findings the researchers stressed keeping a healthy weight was still crucial for avoiding premature death. But they added: "In the light of these results, it is equally important to maintain healthy muscular strength levels. "It's possible to reduce cancer mortality rates in men by promoting resistance training involving the major muscle groups at least two days a week."

A spokesman for Cancer Research UK said resistance exercise might have some benefit but it was more important to regularly do some cardiac exercise. Health information officer Jessica Harris said: "There's no need to become a body builder. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week that leaves you warm and slightly out of breath can have a positive effect."


New drug delays prostate cancer slightly

One has to laugh at the original headline on this story: "Life-saving wonder drug to fight prostate cancer 'available in just two years'"

A new drug that has dramatic effects against prostate cancer could be available in just two years, scientists said last night. Successful trials have shown that it can shrink the most dangerous tumours in up to 70 per cent of cases. The drug, abiraterone, has been hailed as the biggest advance in the field for 60 years, capable of saving many thousands of lives. The British scientists behind it will start trials soon to see if it can also work against breast cancer.

Prostate is Britain's most common cancer among men and the second highest killer, after lung cancer. Some 35,000 people a year are diagnosed with it - and 12,000 die. [I am betting that all of them die. 23,000 immortals is hard to believe]

There are two types, aggressive and non-aggressive. Two-thirds of cases have the non-aggressive variety and can often lead a healthy life. But those with the aggressive version - 10,000 British men a year - usually die within 18 months of diagnosis.

Abiraterone was discovered by the Institute of Cancer Research with funding from Cancer Research UK. The latest trials on men with aggressive cancer found that just four pills a day can control the disease and reduce pain - all with few side effects. The effect does not last indefinitely - tumour growth can resume after an average of eight months. But the scientists have developed a method of prolonging the benefits for another 12 months by combining the drug with a steroid.

They also discovered that men with a particular gene abnormality - thought to drive the growth of the cancer - responded best to abiraterone. The team have developed a test for the abnormality to identify the men likely to derive the most benefit from the drug.

Lead researcher Dr Gert Attard said of the latest trial, involving 54 patients: 'These men have very aggressive prostate cancer which is exceptionally difficult to treat and almost always proves to be fatal. 'We hope that abiraterone will eventually offer them real hope of an effective way of managing their condition and prolonging their lives.'

Hormone therapy, the standard method of treating prostate cancer, involves blocking the body's production of male hormones like testosterone, which 'feed' the tumour. But it can be ineffective on aggressive forms, where the tumours produce their own hormones. Doctors can try chemotherapy, but it may have severe side effects such as nausea, pain, malnutrition, haemorrhages and hair loss. Many patients also have radiotherapy to reduce associated pain in the bones. This can also be dangerous, leaving patients with little quality of life.

Abiraterone uses a different approach, blocking chemicals in the body which help in the production of male hormones, including by tumours. Chief investigator Dr Johann de Bono said: 'This has changed the way the science community looks at prostate cancer.'

The drug is now undergoing a much larger final-stage trial in 150 hospitals worldwide. If it is successful, the scientists, who published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, hope the drug will be licensed as early as 2011. The rationing body Nice would then decide if it should be available on the NHS. Professor Peter Johnson, chief clinician at Cancer Research, said: 'These early results hold great promise and give real hope for the future. 'We are keen to see the results of larger trials now under way, to find out whether abiraterone should be made generally available.'


1 comment:

John A said...

Building muscle mass: "Even among volunteers who had excess tummy fat or a high body mass index, regular weight training seemed to have a protective effect."

Uh, people with more-than-average muscle have, by definition, higher BMI. And other studies have shown those in the "[low/medium]overweight according to BMI" fare better than those in the low end of "normal," though whether there is a direct correlation implied to muscle vs fat in those studies is unclear to me.