Exercise During Teen Years Can Prevent Brain Tumors Later
A new study appearing in the upcoming November issue of Cancer Research has found that exercising during adolescence may help guard against a type of deadly brain tumor called a glioma.
Steven C. Moore, a research fellow at the Nutritional Epidemiology ranch of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, examined data from over 500,000 adults, ages 50 to 71, who participated in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. The participants completed questionnaires on height and weight at different points in their lives.
Those who reported actively participating in exercise between the ages of 15 and 18 were 36% less likely to develop a glioma than those who led more sedentary lives. Activities ranged in intensity from light to vigorous, and included traditional exercises, such as walking, running, biking, aerobics, and non-traditional physical activities such as housework and gardening.
Weight was also a significant factor in the study results. Teens who were obese later had a three to four time greater risk of developing brain tumors than those of normal weight. As tall stature is also a risk factor for the cancer, researchers conclude that anything that increases the rate of cell proliferation could potentially lead to cancer. High levels of growth hormones, IGF-1 for example, have been linked to increased cancer risk.
The link between physical activity and glioma risk was not consistent across the lifespan. For example, physical activity during adulthood did not decrease risk of brain tumor development. Dr. Moore stated that biological factors related to growth and energy balance during childhood may play a key role in the causation of gliomas.
Gliomas are the most common type of brain and central nervous system cancers and cause 13,000 deaths in the United States each year. Primary brain tumors start in the brain or spinal cord tissue and can spread within the nervous system. The tumors do not typically spread to other parts of the body.
Source: U.S. National Cancer Institute and the Mayo Clinic