High Muscle Strength Drops Cancer Chances by 30%

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Baron, Oct 2, 2017.

  1. Baron

    Baron ET Founder

    Build muscle mass and muscle strength, and you'll also build up protection against cancer. Researchers at the University of South Carolina reached this conclusion from a study they published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. The men who could shift heavier weights with bench presses and leg presses were less likely to die from cancer.

    Muscle strength

    The men had undergone a thorough fitness and medical check up in the eighties, so the researchers knew how fit their subjects were and how much fat they were carrying.

    The researchers first published results of their study in 2008, reporting that strong men live longer and that muscle strength in particular protects against cancer. If you have average or high muscular strength your chance of developing cancer is thirty percent lower than if your strength level is low. A high strength level protects slightly better than an average strength level, but the difference is negligible.

    The researchers discovered that muscle strength reduces the chance of developing a fatal form of cancer regardless of your bodyweight. The graph below shows the protective effect of muscle strength for different BMIs. Black = low strength level; grey = average strength level; white = high strength level.


    Dividing the subjects up according to body fat produced the same results. You're better off with a lower fat percentage, but even if you have a bit more fat in your body, muscle mass still has a protective effect.


    Fitness protects against cancer. Best of all is being fit and strong: if you're not fit, the protective effect of your muscular strength is less.


    The researchers also looked at different types of cancer in their study. Body strength protected against all sorts of cancer except for prostate cancer. The protective effect was greatest for cancer of the digestive tract.

    The researchers think that the protective effect of muscle mass comes from the fact that muscle cells remove anabolic hormones from the body. The hormones that are responsible for muscle growth, such as IGF-1, also stimulate the growth of tumours.

    The researchers don't beat about the bush when it comes to the implications of their study. "It is biologically plausible to reduce cancer mortality death rates among men by promoting regular resistance training involving the major muscle groups of the upper and lower extremities at least 2 days per week", they write. "Resistance and aerobic exercise should complement each other."

    Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009 May;18(5):1468-76.
    userque and Slartibartfast like this.
  2. eurusdzn


    I do believe this. Rage, (without blowing out muscles and blood vessels), struggle and strive.
    Retire, quit, sloth, get soft and you let all sorts of maladies in.
    Much better to grind down the joints, have surrounding tendons, muscles, ligaments strong and then, have them replaced.
    Tell me one thing Baron....will you ever have a soft pouch, nothing but skin and bones.?
    I think not!
    Good to see some research validating what I see more and more as time goes by.
    Baron likes this.
  3. TRS


    "If you have average or high muscular strength your chance of developing cancer is thirty percent lower than if your strength level is low. A high strength level protects slightly better than an average strength level, but the difference is negligible"

    So in essence, if you are weaker than what is considered average by definition of this study, your cancer risk is increased.
  4. And with the good attitude... add another 30%
  5. Does this research only apply to men? Or do strong women also reap these benefits?
  6. Baron

    Baron ET Founder

    My best guess is that it would easily apply to both sexes.
  7. I would hope so. But the pieces you quoted only show results for men. Maybe the researchers did not include women in their research.
  8. Sig


    I would be interested in the same thing, although I happen to be a man. If the results were the same it would imply that it's the exercise itself providing the benefit rather than the muscle mass that is the result of the exercise, given that women on average would gain relatively less muscle mass for a given amount of lifting. That result in turn would hopefully translate to me when I'm 80 and benching the bar, but still putting in as much effort as I am today.

    I'm guessing they had a harder time recruiting enough women to join the study?
  9. Pekelo


    Just about 87.3% of these type of statistics is worthless. They come up with causations when there is only correlation but there isn't a direct link. Also, if your risk of cancer decreases from let's say 17% to 12% that still doesn't mean jack. Those are just numbers...
  10. Sig


    I share your frustration in the dependence on statistics in health, I'd much rather a scientist found a mechanism of action at the cellular level and then backed it with a population study. That said, a population study is better than anecdotal evidence which is the next best thing we have, especially when you control for a bunch of other factors. How many times back in the day did you hear someone say "My grandpa lived to 90 smoking a pack a day, so smoking can't be that bad for you." Based on population studies the vast majority of us now believe smoking causes lung cancer, at least in the U.S.
    #10     Oct 5, 2017