By Jessica Onyegbula
An Abuja-based oncologist, Dr Kenneth Amobi, says aerobic exercise can slow the growth of breast cancer, tumours and make the cancer more sensitive to chemotherapy.
Amobi told our correspondent in Abuja that a new study involving mice has proven that exercise can lower cancer growth.
He stressed that the results raise the possibility that exercise may change the biology of some malignant tumours, potentially making them easier to treat.
He noted that scientists and clinicians have known for some time that solid tumours can create their own peculiar ecosystem within the body.
“As a tumour grows, it sends out biochemical signals that prompt the creation of additional blood vessels to provide the expanding tumour with more oxygen. Oxygen is important for cell health, including in normal tissue.
“But in some tumours, these new blood vessels begin to proliferate so wildly that they create jumble and tumble of tubes that can curl around and choke one another.
“And by choking one another it reduces blood supply and oxygen to the tumour, as a result, the tumour becomes hypoxic; it exists in an environment with little oxygen.
“That condition might seem desirable, since it is fundamentally unhealthy for living tissue to be starved of oxygen,” he said.
Amobi said that unfortunately, hypoxia also can make tumours relatively impervious to treatment, noting that chemotherapy drugs and radiation work better in conjunction with oxygen.
“It’s a bad sign from a clinical perspective when a tumour is hypoxic.
“There have been trials in animals and people of substances that alter the biochemical signals from the tumours and lead to slower, more normal blood vessel growth to the tumour and reduce hypoxia.
“But the benefits of this approach have so far been fleeting; eventually the blood vessels leading to the tumour tend to overgrow again like untended vines and hypoxia returns,’’ the expert said.