Exercise May Help the Immune System Kill Cancer Cells

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People who exercise are known to have a good prognosis than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.  Now recent research has finally found an explanation that can suggest why exercise is so successful in slowing down the cell growth of cancer cells in mice. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden explain activity in a person’s body has the ability to change the metabolism of our immune system, when this happens cells from the immune system are able to beat cancer cells.

The results of the study are published in the journal eLife.

Randall Johnson is a professor at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, he is also the corresponding author on the study. He says the biology beneath the positive effects of physical activity has helped give new insights into how the body works to regulate its overall health and also helps researchers understand and design better and more successful treatments for cancer patients.

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Previous research has already revealed that exercise can make an unhealthy individual healthier and can improve the prognosis of many different diseases such as varied forms of lethal cancer. The specific reason why exercise offers such strong benefits to protect bodies against cancer is however still not known. Researchers still do not exactly know what goes on within biological mechanisms when this happens.

One believable explanation for this could be that exercise activates and kickstarts a body’s immune system and in doing so encourages and boosts the body’s system of preventing and controlling the growth of cancer. This suggests exercise may also increase the likelihood to beat cancer.

In the study, researchers further expanded their understanding of this hypothesis on how white blood cells operated on cancer cells and how they changed in response to exercise.

In the study they divided the subject mice into two groups, these mice all had cancer. While one sample of mice was made to exercise every day using a spinning wheel while the other sample stayed sedentary. The result from the experiment found that the growth of cancer slowed down and the trained animals had a lowered mortality rate compared to those that remained sedentary.

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Through rigorous testing of these mice, the researchers discovered that cytotoxic T cells were very important for the body’s defense against cancerous growth. They also found that exercise helped such cells work even better in killing cancer.

When the researchers transferred these calls from active mice to untrained mice suffering from tumors, they improved their prospects of survival significantly in comparison to those that did not.

The researchers in the study concluded that exercise appeared to be successful in inhibiting the growth of harmful cancers in the body and strengthened the immune system’s response to disease. They hope to give a better understanding of how our lifestyles have power over how our immune system behaves and how to further treatments can be developed using this study’s data. Future treatments may use this data to help patients beat cancer.


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