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It’s well known that exercise offers many health benefits, and men can add a reduced risk of prostate cancer to the list. A new meta-analysis of 43 studies involving 88,294 cases found that overall, physical activity (both occupational and recreational combined) is associated with a 10 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer, with a few variations depending on the activity and age.
It seems that not all physical activity/exercise is the same when it comes to reducing the risk of prostate cancer, although every amount helps. When the reviewers combined data from all the studies, they found a 19 percent reduced risk for prostate cancer associated with occupational physical activity (amount of physical activity associated with one’s job) and a 5 percent reduced risk associated with recreational physical activity (e.g., walking, running, swimming, and others).
The benefits of physical activity regarding prostate cancer risk also differed depending on the age of the men studied. Among men ages 20 to 45, there was a 7 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer associated with total physical activity, and a 9 percent reduced risk seen in men between 45 and 65.
However, among men younger than 20 and older than 65, the reviewers did not see any significant reduction in prostate cancer risk associated with overall physical activity.
The reviewers concluded there is a small reduced risk of prostate cancer associated with physical activity. They also acknowledged there were limitations to their study, including a lack of consistency in the definition of recreational physical activity among the studies, the possibility of recall and interviewer errors, and an inability to determine the dose-response effect (the impact different amounts of exercise had on risk).
Given the other known health benefits of physical activity—occupation and recreational—the positive results seen in this meta-analysis, and a reduced risk of prostate cancer associated with exercise seen in other studies, men should keep on exercising for their prostate and their overall health.
Read more in our Prostate Cancer Health Center.
Liu Y et al. Does physical activity reduce the risk of prostate cancer? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur Urol 2011 July Nov; 60(5): 1029-44