Breast Cancer and Exercise – The Inflammatory Fat Cell Connection
A new systematic review and meta-analysis published by the American Association for Cancer Research examined the impact of exercise on insulin-like growth factor-axis, adiponectin (glucose regulator and fatty acid metabolizer), and other inflammatory cytokines associated with breast cancer.
Physical activity is believed to improve the prognosis of breast cancer survivors as it can enhance immunological parameters, decrease inflammation and reduce excess adiposity associated with increased estrogen activity.
PubMed, EMBASE, CENTRAL, CINAHL, and SportDiscus were searched to identify randomized controlled trails concerning the effect of exercise on insulin, insulin-like growth factor-axis, and cytokines in breast cancer survivors. A total of 18 studies involving 681 breast cancer survivors were included. The investigators found that exercise significantly reduced fasting insulin levels (particularly when the subjects lost weight), improved insulin resistance as well as impacted adiponectin and C-reactive protein activity in a favorable manner.
The data suggests that exercise reduces fasting insulin levels in breast cancer survivors via reductions in body weight and improved insulin resistance – which in turn can have a positive impact on immunological and inflammatory dynamics associated with poorer breast cancer prognoses. Even with the analysis of the 18 applicable studies, more randomized controlled trials are needed for a comprehensive analysis of this relationship; but in the meantime, it appears that exercise for weight management can certainly be beneficial.
Take Home Message: Exercise optimizes glucose and weight management as well as reduces inflammatory markers associated with breast cancer.