Physical Inactivity Linked to Prostate Cancer Risk

According to a study in this month’s Cancer Causes & Control, men who hold desk jobs are more likely to develop prostate cancer than those with careers involving manual labor.

Cubicals: Sort of Like Toxic Chemicals

For the study, researchers examined job history and medical data from more than 2,100 men who worked at Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power, a nuclear and rocket engine testing facility in the San Fernando Valley, between 1950 and the early 1990s. Between 1988 and 1999, the researchers identified 362 workers who developed prostate cancer and compared them to a control group of 1,805 employees that did not.

After entering data on each study participant into a job exposure matrix that ranked job descriptions by the amount of physical activity required and possibility of any harmful exposure, the researchers determined that men with the lowest levels of physical activity – such as managers, analysts and engineers – were more likely to develop prostate cancer than those employed as masons, welders, janitors and other physically active roles. The researchers also note that prostate cancer risk was higher in men who were frequently exposed to toxic chemicals as well as among African Americans and those with a family history of the disease.

Hmmm. So to analyze, “working an office job” can be lumped in with exposure to toxic chemicals in terms of prostate cancer risk?

Then does this mean all us desk jockeys – of the male persuasion at least – are destined to develop the disease? Not necessarily according to the study’s lead author – herself an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of California Los Angeles who says that “the message from this study for today is that if you’re more active, you may be able to prevent this cancer from happening.” And she notes that this extends to physical activity copped outside of regular business hours.

Physical activity, is that all? Sounds doable, but how much are we talking here? Well, according to a 2005 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, just three hours of “vigorous” exercise per week can reduce the risk of dying of prostate cancer or being diagnosed with an advanced form of the disease by 70%. Examples of the vigorous exercise in question? Hiking, jogging, bicycling, lap swimming, tennis, racquetball, and rowing – nothing you haven’t done before.

The overarching theme in both of these studies? Regular, consistent, physical activity is key. But again, this is nothing you haven’t heard before.

fensterbme Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Obesity and Cancer Connection

Health Beat: Prostate Cancer – “No Evidence that Treatment is Better Than No Treatment”

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