I’ve been waiting my entire life—or at least, my entire career—for a headline like this one: “Exercise is Cancer Medicine.”
In fact, according to the article attached to this headline, a global coalition of 17 organizations—including the American College of Sports Medicine—is now saying that conventional oncology is “failing those diagnosed with cancer” by not prescribing exercise to patients.
And what can I say? Finally, someone else is calling out these imbeciles and their playbook of hideous treatments…
Survival increases near 50 percent
This development has been a long time coming. Believe it not, there’s now more evidence supporting the role of exercise in cancer treatment than there was behind its role in heart disease prevention when we first started pushing physical activity for cardiovascular health.
We’re talking more than 2,500 gold-standard clinical exercise trials on cancer patients in publication just since 2010. And all of those came with calls (from the likes of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Society of Clinical Oncology) to start using exercise as medicine in cancer protocols.
Unfortunately, however, these findings have been virtually ignored.
Get this: Back in 2017, Australian researchers pooled data from two randomized, controlled trials, both of which investigated the benefits of exercise in cancer patients. Results showed a significant mortality benefit.
In fact, after more than eight years of follow-up, researchers observed a 5.3 percent death rate in the exercise group, and an 11.5 percent death rate in the standard care group.
Those numbers may not look like much. But statistically speaking, they represent a nearly 50 percent increase in survival with exercise. Yet still, publication proved challenging because the study wasn’t about a new drug.
And you and I both know full well that oncologists wouldn’t hesitate to prescribe any drug with even half the benefit. So why can’t they get on board with this?
Setting a new standard
The path forward is clear. Prescriptions for exercise need to be the new standard of care for cancer patients. And doctors should be monitoring physical activity with the same vigilance they give vitals like blood pressure.
In fact, that’s exactly what I do. Because this type of assessment holds my patients accountable, and I simply can’t imagine practicing without that critical information.
The really sad part here is that most people who are living with and after cancer aren’t physically active—and up to two-thirds are completely sedentary. Partly because no one is telling them what’s at stake.
Of course, the U.K. is leading the way here, with programs that provide a minimum of one year of free exercise intervention to all patients. Here in the U.S., organizations like LIVESTRONG offer shorter 12-week programs—none of which are covered by insurance.
As usual, you’re on your own here. So whether you have cancer, are a cancer survivor, or you just want to simply live longer, ask yourself these questions:
- On how many days in the past week have you performed an exercise that raised your heart rate for at least 30 minutes?
- On how many days in the past week did you lift weights, or perform some other kind of strength-building exercise?
Ideally, the answer you should be striving for is “nearly every day.” The target for cancer is moderate intensity activity for 30 minutes three times a week—and resistance training for 20 to 30 minutes twice a week. (But as I’ve said here before, a little can still go a long way where exercise is concerned. And there’s nothing wrong with starting small and increasing efforts as you feel comfortable.)
Either way, have this discussion with your oncologist. And if they don’t seem to think exercise is a priority? Well, don’t you dare let that stop you from making it one.
P.S. For additional simple, science-backed strategies to fortify your cellular defenses—and stop cancer in its tracks—I encourage you to check out my Essential Cancer Protocol. To learn more about this innovative learning tool, or to enroll today, simply click here now!
“Exercise Is Cancer Medicine, Says Global Coalition.” Medscape Medical News, 10/16/2019. (medscape.com/viewarticle/919942)