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International genetic study reveals physical activity plays key role in prostate cancer risk

Thursday 5 December, 2019

A new study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology today, reveals that being more active reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

The study, which included over 140,000 men of which 80,000 had prostate cancer, is the first to show that being active may have a large impact on prostate cancer risk.

Study co-author Associate Professor Brigid Lynch from Cancer Council Victoria’s Cancer Epidemiology Division, said the study was important as, to date, there has been little evidence of ways to reduce prostate cancer risk.

“This study is the largest ever to use genetics as a measurement for physical activity to look at its effect on prostate cancer and suggests a much larger effect of physical activity on prostate cancer than previously thought.”

“By using a new method combining genetics, lifestyle and cancer risk have shown people with a variation in their DNA that makes them more likely to be active had a 51 per cent reduced risk of prostate cancer, compared with people who did not have this particular variation.”

Associate Professor Lynch said the findings relate to overall physical activity, not just intense exercise.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Mr Todd Harper, said this prevention research was incredibly important as so far there has been no research-confirmed steps men can take to reduce their risk of prostate cancer, despite it being our most common male cancer.

“Prostate cancer accounts for more than 25 per cent of all new male cancer diagnoses each year in Victoria,” said Mr Harper

“By shining a light on physical activity as modifiable risk for prostate cancer, we hope that men will be encouraged to adopt a more active lifestyle.”

The study was led by the University of Bristol and co-funded by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK).