Physical exercise is one of the great allies of health as it helps to lead a better quality of life, not only when you are in good health but also when you are suffering from any kind of disease like cancer, because According to two new studies from the University of Turku in Finland, short bouts of mild or moderate exercise can increase the number of cancer-destroying immune cells.
Additionally, exercise lowers the risk of cancer and reduces the side effects of cancer treatment. It also improves the quality of life of patients and their prognosis.
Research assistant Tia Koivula explains, “Earlier it was believed that cancer patients should simply rest after a cancer diagnosis. Today, we have more research that exercise can also improve cancer prognosis. However, this It is not yet fully known how exercise regulates cancer.”
Previous preclinical studies have found that exercise affects the functioning of the immune system, so more immune cells migrate to the tumor site and become more active in killing cancer cells.
These two new studies, carried out at the Turku PET Center at the University of Turku in Finland and published in ‘Scientific Reports’, aimed to find out whether a short bout of exercise affects the dynamics of immune cells in cancer patients.
The two studies involved 28 patients with newly diagnosed lymphoma and breast cancer. The lymphoma patients were between 20 and 69 years old and the breast cancer patients were between 37 and 73 years old.
During the study, patients did 10 minutes of exercise on a bicycle. Blood samples were taken once before exercise and twice after exercise.
“Pedaling resistance was determined for each patient individually corresponding to light or moderate physical activity. The most important goal was for patients to be able to pedal continuously for 10 minutes without fatigue, but without increasing their heart rate.” ,” Koivula explains.
Researchers looked at the numbers of several different immune cells, also known as white blood cells, in blood samples and compared the numbers in samples before and after exercise. During exercise, cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells increased in the bloodstream of lymphoma patients.
In breast cancer patients, in addition to cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells, exercise also increased the total number of white blood cells, as well as the number of intermediate monocytes and B cells. The change was rapid and transient, and in most patients the number of immune cells returned to a level consistent with the resting value in blood samples taken 30 minutes after the end of exercise.
“It is particularly interesting that we found an increase in cytotoxic immune cells during exercise in both groups of patients. These immune cells are capable of killing cancer cells,” noted Koivula.
The researchers also found a correlation between exercise intensity and changes in the number of immune cells in both groups of patients. The more the patients’ heart rate and blood pressure increased, the more immune cells were transferred into the bloodstream.
“While our results suggest that the higher the intensity of exercise, the more immune cells are transferred from their storage organs into the bloodstream, it is noteworthy that even light or moderate-intensity exercise lasting only 10 minutes can significantly increase immune function.” This will cause an increase in the number of K. cells that are important in fighting cancer,” says Koivula.
ten minutes is enough
However, the researchers stress that it is important that patients do physical exercise that they enjoy because cancer treatments can make them tired and reduce their motivation to exercise, so “it is reassuring to know that just Ten minutes of cycling or going to the supermarket, for example, may be enough to stimulate the body’s immune system.”
Tia Koivula says that studies have not yet determined where immune cells enter the bloodstream and where they go after exercise.
“More research is needed to study in cancer patients whether immune cells are transported to tumors after exercise, where they can kill cancer cells. This has been shown in preclinical studies, but research in cancer patients is yet to be done.” is also quite a work in progress. Incomplete. says Koivula.
Cancer treatments often affect immune defenses by reducing the number of immune cells. When the immune system is weakened, the stimulatory role of exercise may be especially important.