Fitness to Prevent Cancer Worked Out at ACSM

Laird Harrison

May 20, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS — The benefits of exercise for people with cancer, and its role in cancer prevention, will be in the spotlight at the upcoming American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 2018 Annual Meeting.

"There have been huge leaps forward in our understanding of the role of exercise in primary and secondary prevention of cancer," said ACSM President-Elect Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who is program committee chair for the meeting.

Evidence presented will show that exercise can help prevent at least 13 different cancers, she told Medscape Medical News.

The third expert report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research — Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Cancer: A Global Perspective — will be unveiled at the meeting. The report synthesizes evidence on the effects of physical activity for 17 cancer sites, looks at the relation between exercise and outcomes in patients with breast cancer, and forms the basis for the recommendations on exercise issued by the two organizations.

In addition, strategies to encourage exercise in cancer survivors, comparisons of the effect of different exercises on fatigue and quality of life in cancer survivors, and differences in physical activity between adults with and without a history of cancer will be presented.

Other presentations will examine the psychosocial beliefs of breast cancer survivors and probe whether the benefits achieved with light physical activity are the same as those achieved with moderate activity in this population.

The treatment of musculoskeletal issues in patients whose cancer is in remission will be discussed by Eric Helm, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Adam Susmarski, DO, from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Guidelines for Exercise

Current guidelines for exercise in cancer survivors will be reviewed by Lynn Gerber, MD, from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago.

For 10 different common cancers, the effects of exercise, independent of the effects of obesity, have been demonstrated, Schmitz told Medscape Medical News.

New findings show that people can benefit from multiple short bouts of exercise, such as thirty 1-minute sessions rather than one 30-minute session. "We're letting go of old ideas about bout," she explained.

This is "important for primary care," Schmitz said. Clinicians can suggest that patients park their cars further from their destinations or take the stairs instead of the elevator, rather than insisting that they show up at the gym every day.

Results from a meta-analysis of short bouts of exercise will be presented by Heontae Kim, MS, from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.

"There will be a record number of papers on the athlete with physical or mental impairment," said ACSM President Walt Thompson, MD, from Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Athletes With Disabilities

One symposium will explore ways to protect Olympic and Paralympic athletes from harassment and abuse. And the President's Lecture — by Nick Webborn from the British Paralympic Association — will examine why the Paralympics have become the third-most popular sporting event, after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup of soccer.

Sports medicine specialists are becoming increasingly interested in the challenges of baby boomer athletes, Thompson told Medscape Medical News.

"You probably remember Healthy People 2000. Twenty-eight years ago we were pushing people to get healthier," he pointed out. That was when members of the baby boom generation were in their 40s. "Now what do we do with them?"

Significant predictors of mobility in community-dwelling older adults — such as standing balance, muscle strength, and proprioception for each lower limb joint — will be explored by Yejun Wang, PhD, from Shanghai University of Sport in China.

And the effects of two low-dose strength and balance programs on the physical function of mobility-limited adults will be compared by Michael Corcoran, PhD, from Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts.

The effects of the micronutrient choline on the strength of older adults will be assessed by Chang Woock Lee, PhD, from the University of Houston–Victoria. And a study of nitrites and aerobic capacity in an older population will be presented by Kelly Allsup, MA, from the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

Schmitz and Thompson have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Follow Medscape on Twitter @Medscape and Laird Harrison @LairdH

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