Lymphoma Prevention: Exercise & Physical Activity

Having looked at lymphoma prevention from the perspective of environmental exposures and diet and nutrition, I'll now look towards prevention from the perspective of exercise and physical activity.

Exercise and Activity

It requires asserting that you can not prevent something from happening if you don't know what causes it to happen—which defines the mystery of cancer generally and lymphoma specifically—so we must extrapolate broad cancer prevention recommendations and presume that they are applicable to lymphoma.

In the mammoth "Preventability of Cancer by Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Weight Management" published jointly by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, researchers write:

"There is no reason to believe that [lymphoid cancers] might be affected by … physical activity in the same ways [as other cancers]."

The ACS

The American Cancer Society publication "Diet and activity factors that affect risk for certain cancers" does not mention lymphoma.

The LRF

The Lymphoma Research Foundaton notes that those who exercise regularly are likely better equipped to deal with anti-cancer treatments and makes similar recommendations along those lines, but does not suggest that exercise can specifically prevent lymphoma.

The LLS

Not even the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) will say directly that exercise or activity can prevent lymphoma.

That said, the LLS does promote and support the Team In Training (TNT) program, which encourages people to participate in marathons and similar endurance races by helping them train for them, but the TNT is primarily a fundraiser that also gets people off the couch and in better shape. Nowhere does it claim to contribute to lymphoma prevention.

How Much Exercise is Enough?

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has some direct language with regard to exercise and cancer prevention:

"Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. Physical activity in any form helps to lower cancer risk. Aim to build more activity, like brisk walking, into your daily routine."

How does exercise contribute to the prevention of cancer? The AICR notes the following:

  • It helps you maintain a healthy weight, staving off the kind of weight gain that can raise one's cancer risk;
  • It maintains healthy hormone levels, as studies indidcate that some hormones, when at high levels, can increase cancer risk;
  • It could contribute to a stronger immune system;
  • It may contribute to a more active and healthy digestive system.

They offer you a choice: 30 minutes of somewhat vigorous activity each day, or 60 minutes of moderate activity. The American Cancer Society recommends 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, or 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.

It would be nice if they actually defined the difference between moderate and vigorous activity, and in fact they do:

  • Moderate activity: "Anything that gets your heart beating a bit faster and makes you breathe more deeply – like brisk walking."
  • Vigorous activity: "Raising your heart rate so that you warm up, start to sweat and feel out of breath."

In Conclusion

Lymphoid cancers are notoriously slippery; risk factors have been determined but in most cases no one can with 100 percent certainty prevent lymphoma; the best any of us can do is follow the guidelines and recommendations established by decades of epidemiological research, because there simply is no direct evidence tying exercise to lymphoma prevention, but there is an overwhelming amount of evidence tying exercise to a host of things that promote physical and psychological well-being. Patients are encouraged to speak with their doctor or health care professional about what level of exercise makes the most sense for them.

Photo by John Nyboer

More Articles

More Articles

Lymphoma patients may have the option to participate in clinical trials, gaining access to an experimental treatment before it is widely available...

Since there are several subtypes of T cell lymphoma, there will necessarily be several non-specific T cell lymphoma...

In order to prevent developing any subtype of lymphoma, it would be helpful to know the causes of lymphoma. Unfortunately, in virtually every case...

After surviving lymphoma treatments, patients should be on the lookout for late effects. These are symptoms that arise well after treatment has...

Canine lymphoma is a fairly common cancer in American dogs. The most commonly seen lymphoma in America is a type called Lymphosarcoma, although...

Advances in the treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma have resulted in remarkable survival rates, even for...

Since so many chemotherapy agents can affect a patient’s sex drive and fertility, thinking about these issues prior...

The short answer: both. Let's begin with a simple definition of radiation: Radiation is the energy emitted from an energy source. That energy...

According to a study by Japanese researchers, the SMILE combination chemotherapy protocol is effective against extranodal natural killer/T-cell...

Patients treated with maintenance rituximab had three times longer progression-free survival. This is a summary of an article published in the...

When you consider that the adult human body has anywhere from 300 to 700 lymph nodes, the better question might not be where ARE they located, but...

This entry looks at a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma called true histiocytic lymphoma (THL), also referred to as diffuse histiocytic lymphoma, and...

Lymphomatous meningitis [LM], also known as leukemic meningitis, is an extremely serious peripheral cancer that attacks the tissue that covers the...

Hodgkin's Disease—also referred to as Hodgkin's Lymphoma, these are the exact same diseases, just...

Intravascular lymphoma is a subtype of 'Lymphoma', an umbrella term that loosely refers to several dozen...