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Exercise and Immune System Enhancement in Cancer Survivors

‘Cancer’ is a scary word…rather, Cancer is a horrific, repugnant, disconsolate, woeful thief of life! I’ve lost several loved ones to its destructive plagued consumption. {It} affects us all in one way or another.

The standard treatment is to bombard the body with a massive amount of poison to kill the cancer cells…along with every other living organism in your body. Leaving behind issues with the digestive tract, the hair follicles, bone marrow, and the reproductive system. Soon the immune system becomes overtaxed. Loitering about is another enemy, Anemia. Anemia is due to the drugs that harm the cells in the bone marrow, where red blood cells are engineered. Under the umbrella of anemia, we have fatigue, lightheadedness, pale skin, difficulty thinking, feeling cold, general weakness, and lack of desire

But we do our best. Donations, hours of research, discoveries, experiments…we’ve come a long way-no doubt. But the fundamentals took a back seat as technology and advancements detonated front and center. The fundamentals I speak - are the staples of basic human life - Proper exercise and diet.

Current medications and treatments are effective and deserve recognition. But the puzzle is incomplete. All aspects of the therapeutic experience need to be addressed in order for proper healing to take form. Medicine and therapy are one piece. The second is proper nutrition to aid in increased immune response, and the last component-and most overlooked-is exercise. And often exercise can be the thing that brings it all home. Exercise, (resistance and aerobic training) are finally being studied and tested on the benefits of disease reversal and prevention. The foremost purpose of the ever-materializing field of Exercise-Oncology Research is to establish the effectiveness of, and biological mechanisms by which, exercise affects disease, (like cancer) incidence, development, and metastasis. Developing data indicate that exercise after a cancer diagnosis can improve outcomes for early-stage colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer.

Cancer survivors have a limited number of mediations that might reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and may increase survival times following completion of primary therapy. What has been disregarded is a therapy as old as time, exercise. It has been purported that physical exercise is beneficial due to its ability to enhance the anticancer immune system response. Physical exercise is a particularly attractive option because of its other known health benefits - (increased blood flow, lower blood pressure, heart health etc.,).

Moreover, it has been proposed that physical exercise may positively influence one or more biologic systems important in anticancer defense. Recently, exercise-induced alterations in cancer-related immune system components have received increased research attention. Science based studies published by U.S. National Library of Medicine, Journal for Immuno Therapy of Cancer, and Medicine in Science in Sports and Exercise agree that exercise is beneficial to enhancing the immune system - “There is substantial evidence that exercise and physical activity can reduce incidence and improve outcomes in cancer patients. As the immune system is highly responsive to exercise, one potential avenue to improve immune function is through exercise and physical activity.[i] “Epidemiological evidence has revealed an inverse relationship such that moderate to high levels of physical activity or fitness is associated with decreased incidence and/or mortality rates for various cancers.”[ii]

Exercise and physical activity may contribute to alterations in cancer and infectious disease incidence and progression in many ways. One such way is through modulation of the immune system. Here are ways exercise enhance and strengthen your immune system. Physical activity helps flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other respiratory related illness. Exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells. The white blood cells are the body's immune system Army that fight enemies that enter the body – dis-ease. The antibodies and white blood cells circulate more freely and rapidly, so they have a better chance of detecting illnesses earlier. The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria growth. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better – this is similar to when the body develops a fever. Lastly, exercise slows down and relaxes the release of stress hormones Stress is well known to increase the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness. Psychologists in the field of psychoneuroimmunology have shown that state of life and mind affects one's state of health, “stress in turn tamps down immunity. It's also no surprise that depression hurts immunity”.

Bottom line-Exercise Is Essential, not only for everyday health and vigor but it is paramount in disease prevention and extending your life. Life isn’t over once we get close to and cross 50. It has just begun. We have so much experience and knowledge after traversing this planet, our lives for a half a century. What a waste it would be to not use that experience to grow further, to share that knowledge and wisdom, to experience things you’ve always wanted to live through. We need to do all we can to strive for another 50+ years. Think of the experiences, think of the people you’ll meet, the things you’ll see…the possibilities are endless. All you have to do is get up and exercise. Be well!


~If you have been diagnosed with cancer or are a survivor, contact us so we can begin to aid in your journey back to healthiness. Or if you just feel stuck but you know you must do something about your health, contact us ASAP. We can help!

[i] Gustafson, Michael P et al. “Exercise and the immune system: taking steps to improve responses to cancer immunotherapy.” Journal for immunotherapy of cancer vol. 9,7 (2021): e001872. doi:10.1136/jitc-2020-001872 [ii] WOODS, JEFFREY A.; DAVIS, J. MARK; SMITH, JOHN A.; NIEMAN, DAVID C. Exercise and cellular innate immune function, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 1999 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - p 57-66

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