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High Muscle Strength Drops Cancer Chances by 30%

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. "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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
  11. Since that thread was posted I was curious to ask the question
    Up to what point extra muscle is an health positive ?

    But as many threads nowadays in this forum, i just forgot about it.
    Yet since late August I've been back lifting after a 14 years hiatus.
    I'd been lifting on and off in my twenties and followed a proper Powerlifting routine (Westside inspired ) in 2002 and possibly early 2003 before stopping completely for mostly professional reasons @83kgs, although i'd been around 90kgs on bodybuilding routines.
    After taking a few kgs of fat and losing some muscles, a few years later, I started to have issues with slipped disks and a doctor back home claimed that if I ever tried to squatt or pull 200kg again, or another significant weight, i'd go straight to the surgery table. Which encouraged me picking up other sports once I again had plenty of time to practice.
    Problem is I suffered a whole bunch of injuries in tennis, golf and even swimming, and can't really run these days, or do side movement with my knee, so went lifting again.

    After about 6 weeks of full body workout lowering progressively the number of reps, I moved to a Beyond 5/3/1 routine with a powerlifting perspective, mostly low reps joker sets, and reps on the lower range on accessory exercises, but still saw my weight jump from 85 to 94 kgs in that time . I only supplement with 1 dose of proteins a day and 5 g creatin and don't look fatter, I don't how much water is responsible for the added weight.

    So now, while what I'm most keen to is increasing 1 rep max, which doesn't work nearly as fast as putting on weight, I don't mind bulking up, quite the contrary actually.

    But for the last couple of weeks i developed what appears to be sleep apnoea, which seems to hit hard heavier folks, including muscular men involved in sports, and is nothing to joke about.


    To finish with the personal story, I'm now considering, besides getting a breathing mask to sleep, whether eat less and switch to a higher intensity program , which is fine in the sense I don't like much sets over 3 reps, but when bulking up so easily it feels a shame not to take profit of it.

    I was also considering HGH before the sleep apnea showed (or flared) up, and still might go for it, as it doesn't necessarily add weight overall to someone and seems to help men in their mid 40s and above deal with injuries, sleep, and getting a better mood overall.

    But the basic question is, while having muscles might be necessary to be healthy, how much muscle becomes unhealthy ?
  12. Is this offset the amount of cancer-causing red meat one must consume? Or am I destined to a life of chicken breasts and powder protein?
  13. One often hears that creatin causes a weight increase of approximately 2 or 3 kg, due to water retention. YMMV.
    I'm not sure whether a forum about trading is the right place to ask. Asking at bodybuilding.com might be more appropriate.
  14. Indeed, I read similar numbers about creatine, also that the water ends up within muscles, which is actually pretty good for strength.

    As of :

    "I'm not sure whether a forum about trading is the right place to ask. Asking at bodybuilding.com might be more appropriate."

    This is the Health and Fitness part of the forum, where you guys definitely talk about weightlifting and several posts go on the line in this thread of "Bigger is Healthier", thought I'd post in this forum with which i'm more familiar than on a lifting forum. Plenty of threads about sleep apnea on bodybuilding forums btw, i might copy and paste the post above and start a new thread there.

    For those who find the article linked above too long, here's the conclusion, which gives an idea about what it is about :

    "Today, everything is supersized—including the bodybuilders, powerlifters, strongmen, and NFL and college players who dominate competitive sports. But as these men test their physical limits, unforeseen dangers that were previously unknown have arisen along with their bodyweight, in part because evolution has not kept up with their gains in size. For some, it may well be an airway blockage that makes every breath at night a struggle for survival."

  15. Indeed, that additional water ends up in the muscles, giving them a "fuller" look. Whether water makes you stronger, or whether the water supports the muscle to become stronger is something I don't know. I tried creatine in the past but it had no strength benefit for me. So I stopped using it, and lost the 2 kg body weight it had caused me to increase.

    I go to the gym to stay fit and healthy. But I don't push myself by training for 1rm max. That makes me too vulnerable to get injured, is my experience. So some training sessions I use sets of 3 or 5 reps, whereas other sessions I use sets of 12 reps.
  16. I don't think you need to overtrain or employ tissue-damaging poor exercise form to build strength.
  17. Steroids have nothing to do with longevity or cancer prevention. At least not in a good way.
  18. Natural genetic potential? Ideally achieved with the minimum dose of properly performed exercise required to get there in order to avoid the deleterious effects of chronic overtraining.

  19. Yes, steroids are not famous for increasing life's expectancy and are most likely widely used in the sports mentioned, yet while they help, they are not needed to become fairly massive, massive to a point that can get one health troubles it seems.
    No doubt some must carry extra muscles more easily than others, but while wishing it was true, I doubt the concept of "Bigger is healthier"
  20. Yes, there are different somatotypes and variations therein. But I don't think that achieving the natural genetic potential for the majority of people will cause them any harm. It will likely do them good because it will help control fat buildup, provide shock absorption in falls, and mobility in old age. Along with a host of other benefits, including those that are the subject of this thread. We are speaking in broad terms about the general population, and not about obscure genetic anomalies.
  21. I probably wouldn't get caught up too much on the muscle part of the equation. There was another study done that concluded that intense resistance training floods the body with all sorts of cancer fighting chemicals. So the increased muscle mass and strength are really just by-products of the regular resistance training. But to answer your question, I think that increased muscle mass only becomes unhealthy when the ability of the muscle to contract exceeds the ability of the surrounding tendons and ligaments to support it, which results in tearing something that requires surgery. That's why I'm not really a big fan of 1RM training.
  22. While I agree that lifting heavy weights makes people good at lifting heavy weights, I suspect that injuries to connective tissue stemming from 1RM lifts have more to do with poor form and momentum rather than the strengthening of muscle beyond the capacity of adjoining tendons and such. That and the fact that people who ingest steroids have weakened tendons:



    Regardless, I share your aversion to 1RM training.
  23. Unfortunately, those anomalities are pretty common... Arthritis, degenerative cartilage disease, osteoporosis, plain old throwing ones back, etc..

    Training to ones genetic potential is a sure way to cause yourself a lot of pain in your old days.
  24. I would think that a properly designed strength training program would be beneficial because it would delay the effects of aging.
    Perhaps you are referring to overtraining?


    Also, please note that I was not talking about competitive sports performance. Rather, I was referring to natural genetic potential as it relates to general strength and body composition.
  25. This has been known for quite a few years now.

    Not only does muscle starve cancer cells of insulin, strength training is also very important for maintaining balanced hormone production as we age which i suspect is also a major reason why people get certain types of cancer.

  26. Be careful: the guy in the video does not talk about insulin, he talks about insulin sensitivity. And he emphasises, both at the beginning and the end, that insulin sensitivity is mainly driven by nutrition partitioning. He does mention, halfway during the video, that being muscular has an additional benefit. But nutrition partitioning (i.e. diet, what/when and how much you eat) is the dominant influencer, in his explanation.
  27. As I understand it, high intensity training depletes the muscles of glycogen, a sugar, which muscles use as energy for short bursts of high effort. Therefore, that "sugar" must be replenished and so the food that is converted to sugar in your body goes to replenish those glycogen stores in your muscles. As a result, the body needs less insulin. When the body is not sufficiently active with adequate intensity, the glycogen largely remains in the muscle, so less is required and absorbed. Therefore, all else being equal, the body will then require more insulin to deal with whatever excess sugar there may be in the bloodstream.

    Bottom line: the more muscle you have and the harder you train it (but not to excess), the higher will be your insulin sensitivity, which is a good thing since, among other things, insulin encourages fat storage. Further, muscle is metabolically expensive. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest, which further helps with weight control. Maximizing your body's natural capacity for muscle is a good thing; it's a no-brainer.

    As for nutrition, you can't outrun a bad diet.
  28. This is indeed the often-heard line of thinking in the bodybuilding world. However, in the medical world is another way of looking at the topic becoming more and more prevalent. One example can be found here:

    Although the video focuses on people with type 2 diabetes, the same applies to anybody who has overweight.
    Roughly speaking she says that you need high insulin sensitivity in order to get a low insulin level, which in turn leads to low glucose level in the blood. Having a high insulin sensitivity makes that your body efficiently absorbs any nutrition when you do eat a meal.
  29. Nothing in your post or video is inconsistent with what I wrote in my post. But the speaker should also have talked about exercise. Because, all else being equal, exercise, especially the intense variety, will help increase insulin sensitivity as a result of the glycogen depletion from the muscles.
  30. Have you got anything for me to read about this? It is new to me that glycogen depletion causes improved insulin sensitivity.
  31. You can read about it on any number of legitimate web sites by just doing a search with the keywords "glycogen depletion insulin sensitivity."

    One good book is Body By Science, written by Doug McGuff, a lifetime HIT fitness enthusiast and ER doctor. His book gets into the science of it fairly extensively for a lay reader, and covers insulin sensitivity quite nicely starting on page 102.
  32. I think your problem is that whilst you have a lot of muscle, you have a lot of fat as well. Can you see your abs?
  33. Can see the upper abs but with poor definition. Always had small pecs but chest is still (well ?) beyond belly level. Probably 3+ inches wider at the waist than in my twenties. I don t mind this kind of look in even bigger, but yes the extra fat can t help sleep apnea. Still extra weight lean or not seems to make the issue worse, and it s a tough battle to add on significant lean muscle.
    Managed to find a clinic where they do overnight sleep.analysis around here, i ll sure go for a breathing mask.at night if advisable. That condition seems quite bad in the long term.
  34. I would say to you to lean out more i.e. lose more fat. Don't lose the muscle. It might/might not help the sleep problem but you'll be more healthier.
  35. The one thing I worry about is the effects on blood pressure of lifting what is even in the 8-10 rep set range. I have to start measuring mine during and hours post workout. My BP is 120/80 at rest without meds, but intuition tells me to watch out for this. I would think, but wouldn't know, this is why a good , older runner with excellent cardio , who does not lift weights goes out and shovels heavy weight snow and collapses. I would prefer not to back off workouts more than I already have but....
    Anyone with experience and knowlege , specifically about risks of spiking BP during workouts
    in an older lifter? 60. Talking about deadlifts, squats, bent over barbell rows here...no fufu.
  36. Just referring to genetic potential. . Sub 15% body fat, ripped like Jesus. Takes a toll to reach that level.
  37. @Here4money I don't think that reaching sub 15% body fat takes a toll to reach. Just some determination and patience.
    Congrats on reaching 2,500 posts.
  38. Body fat is more a function of diet than exercise. Exercise helps, especially the kind that builds muscle, but diet is key. ("You can't outrun a bad diet.") Most people with any reasonable muscle mass would look more "ripped" if they just stayed away from pastry shops and other sources of refined carbs, and didn't overeat. (And there's a difference of hundreds of calories between eating until you're no longer hungry and eating until you're full.) I'm 59 and my body fat was measured at less than 15% in August. But, sadly, it is now in the double digits.
  39. In the book Body By Science, the author, an MD, wrote that weight training is generally safer and better for the heart than conventional "cardio" because of Starling's law of the heart and venous return. Simply stated, and if I understand it correctly, training with weights (resistance training) helps the muscles pump back blood to the heart which it needs to pump out because of increased demands placed on it. "Cardio," on the other hand, does not work the muscles in a manner that produces as much venous return. It is the disparity in venous return during conventional cardio that makes it potentially more risky than resistance training.

    Two things to keep in mind, though. First, be sure to periodically get your doctor's okay to train vigorously. Second, be sure to breathe (exhale) while exerting. Although any form or intense training will briefly increase your blood pressure, holding your breath while exerting (valsalva maneuver) can unnecessarily raise your blood pressure even higher and potentially to dangerous levels.
  40. I was going to like your post. Until I read the very last sentence. Giving a like to that would send the wrong message.
  41. So having a body fat percentage higher than 10% but lower than 15% is bad? Admittedly, it's not the single digit I had when I was measured in my 30s, but I'd say it's still fairly decent for a 59-year-old.

    Tough crowd.
  42. Sorry, I misread your previous post. I read that it was below 15% and then doubled. My bad.
  43. How was it measured?
  44. An InBody composition scale at the gym:


    In 1992-3, I clocked in at 7% when I was in my mid-30s, but it was via calipers, which I know can be inaccurate.

    I know that hydrostatic weighing has long been considered the gold standard, but I used what was readily available to me.
  45. This is the type where you stand on a scale (bare feet) and also hold a handle in each hand? And gives you a test result for each limb (arm, leg), plus your core?
  46. Yes.
  47. The scales underestimate body fat by around 10%. Just fyi.

    If you can just see your abs, an estimate would be about 15 to 18%. Those numbers are based on a DEXA scan.
  48. I know they're not the gold standard, but not all bioelectrical impedance scales are created equal. There is no way it underestimated my body fat by anywhere near 10%. A while back, I read a post in a forum on one of the bodybuilding websites, where the poster included a photo and said he clocked in at around 11% on a bioelectrical impedance scale. I couldn't even see his abs. I don't know what he used, but it was wrong. I can see my abs just fine and my latest reading in August was 13.6%. I actually thought it overestimated my body fat. :D The things we say to ourselves, eh?
  49. Exactly....the dude was above 21% bf in reality.

    I can see my abs.....my bf% is at 17%.
  50. Well then the scale I used is more accurate than the one he used. I came in at a couple points higher in body fat than he did, but I am noticeably leaner than he was in his photo.
  51. In reality u r probably 18% bf....i would suggest having a dexa scan done.

    Don't bother replying....i don't really care either way.
  52. Right. So, one percentage point more than you. Got it. You win.
  53. I had a chance to use one of those, approximately one year ago. I was impressed by the results, especially because I had the impression that those impedance measurements are always highly incorrect. This one had it pretty accurate. Not only that, it also recorded correctly that my right arm and leg have somewhat less muscle mass than the left side. I am stronger in my left side than right side.
    Next month I will visit that hospital again. Hopefully I get to use it once more. Then I can see the changes over time.
  54. That InBody scale looks cool. As a side note, I'm supposed to go get my body composition measurements done in a hydrostatic water tank on January 8th, so that should be pretty interesting.
  55. Please let us know how it goes. And if you have an opportunity to also get tested on an InBody scale, I'd be interested to know if there is a meaningful difference.
  56. So what's the scoop? And did you have a chance to compare the results to those of the InBody scale?
  57. Yeah, sorry about that. I ended up having to go to Atlanta that week so I missed my appointment. I need to reschedule that. The good thing is that my buddy owns the gym that was hosting the testing, so I can jump on the next one that comes around with no problem.

  58. Cut your odds down even more, I read somewhere cancer feeds on processed sugar so cut that out too and we're cooking....
  59. I just did the Miami Marathon and lost about 20 lbs in training. I am eating 80-90% vegan as I cheat here and there when going to play dominoes. I look like a pussy, help. went from 195 to 170 lol.
  60. I came across this some time ago, might be of interest?