The Short Science behind Exercise and Canccer

Dr Brian Kunakon, 30th June 2021

We always hear about the benefits of exercising for the prevention of cancer and for patients undergoing cancer treatments. However, the practicality of seeing a cancer patient exercise seems to be close to non-existent. How exactly does exercise will help with cancer patients? Is it really just the endorphins being released to help relieve stress to help create a better quality of life. Let’s dive into the mechanisms found in research.

Just as a brainteaser, which of the following group of people would benefit most from exercising:

a. People without cancer

b. People undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and/or immunotherapy

c. People who have completed treatment

Fun Fact! Exercise releases Endorphins?

For decades, we keep hearing about the “runner’s high” that many runners would experience during their runs. This is the state of relaxing euphoria after intense or lengthy exercise. It turns out that scientists discovered lately that endorphins are not responsible for the euphoric state. Endorphins are a type of opiod released by the body in certain states and can be induced by pharmaceuticals. During the study, participants were given opiod blockers and yet, participants still experience the state of euphoria. Upon checking their endocannabinoid markers in blood, they found that this is the substance responsible for the state of euphoria. Endocannabinoids are molecules released when an individual is exposed to the once very illegal substance called marijuana. Exercise is a natural process in which we release cannabinoids without having to be exposed to the actual substance!