Colon cancer, while not one of the most common cancers, is one of the most devastating forms of cancer.
It’s expected that in 2019 more than 140,000 cases of colon and rectal cancer will be diagnosed and many of those diagnosed will die. Perhaps as many as 50,000.
And while this sounds bad (it is), there is a reason for people to have hope.
New research indicates that short bursts of intense exercise could actually stop the progression of these kinds of tumors and possibly stop it from growing altogether.
Researchers from the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences at The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, investigated how exercise influences colon cancer tumor progression.
Researcher James Devin and his team were comparing the results of longer forms of exercise (running and biking) which are known to help reverse colon cancer to shorter high-intensity exercise.
“ As Devin and colleagues explain, previous research has pointed out that repeatedly exercising over a long period of time may help fight off cancer, but the new study suggests that even short bursts may have a similarly positive effect.
Additionally, while some studies have found associations between exercise and “significant reductions in colorectal cancer mortality,” the mechanism behind this potentially therapeutic effect of exercise remains unclear.”
Short Intense Exercise Might Halt Cancer Growth
In order to see how short, intense exercise (often referred to as HIIT) helped to halt cancer the team followed individuals with diagnosed exercise.
The team asked all of the individuals to complete 12 HIIT sessions over the course of 4 weeks.
When a person performs a HIIT workout, they perform an exhaustive amount of highly engaging exercise in 20-30 minutes. People work very hard for a short time, then rest, and then work out very hard all over again.
Once the 4 week exercise program was over the researchers analyzed the blood serum samples from the participants at baseline, as well as once they had finished a session.
They collected blood samples before the 4 weeks of HIIT as well as at the conclusion.
An observation about the study by Ana Sandoiu went as follows “‘The “[s]erum obtained immediately following [HIIT], but not 120 minutes post‐[HIIT], significantly reduced colon cancer cell number’” report the researchers.
“Specifically, the scientists found ‘significant increase’ in certain cytokines — that is, in signaling proteins that help modulate the body’s immune and inflammatory responses. These cytokines were interleukin‐6, interleukin‐8, and the tumor necrosis factor‐alpha.”
Devin’s team noticed directly after exercise there was obvious signs of inflammation that he and his cohorts believe could be related to inflammation killing off cancer cells.
“After an acute bout of HIIT there were specific increases in inflammation immediately after exercise, which are hypothesized to be involved in reducing the number of cancer cells…This suggests that a physically active lifestyle may be important in tackling human colorectal tumors.”
The lesson isn’t necessarily that HIIT or high-intensity exercise will lead to cancer reduction, but that anyone doubting the effects of exercise is life extension need to double check their research.