Too Much Exercise Equal to Cancer

Too Much Exercise Equal to Cancer

It has been a long standing question for many years already. The contradiction of exercise and cancer development has been the cause of concern with athletes, bodybuilders and exercise enthusiasts alike. Exercise has been known for the number of benefits that it brings, especially against battling numerous health conditions that can potentially endanger our lives or leave irreparable damage to our organs. However, there have been questions going around whether or not excessive exercise can lead to the development of one of the most serious health conditions – cancer. Just what is it about exercise and cancer? Can too much exercise lead to cancer? Here are some facts to help you understand it.


What is Oxidative Stress?

During normal metabolism, our body produces molecules that are fundamentally unstable in nature. The most common ones are what we call free radicals. They can damage the cells and create even more free radicals, thereby causing more room for damage. Antioxidants are primarily the weapons that fight against these free radicals – either ones acquired from outside the body or those produced by the body itself. Overtime, when these free radicals overwhelm your body’s natural defenses in the form of antioxidants, cell damage is inevitable. This damage is then referred to as oxidative stress.


Exercise and the Immune System

Our immune system is the one primarily responsible to act as a defensive wall against harmful factors through a number of ways. When the immune system’s function gets depressed or severely hindered by factors like malnutrition, illness or serious health conditions like HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) or hematologic conditions like aplastic anemia.

Exercise has been known for its benefits like strengthening the cardiovascular system, respiratory system and even the immune system. However, there have been studies indicating that too much exercise can lead to the depression in the immune system’s function.

Our body produces free radicals at a regulated amount with our antioxidant natural defenses counteracting the damage that they cause. However, overtraining or excessive exercise can lead to the increase of these free radicals, significantly increasing the amount of damage that they cause. Exhaustive exercise causes inflammation and damage to the tissues which is the most apparent sign of increased free radicals in the body. This is particularly located in the muscular and skeletal regions, making it more common with runners, bodybuilders and athletes.

Dr. Ken Cooper, an expert in antioxidant and free radical research, has stated that there are two ways that free radical production can be increased through excessive exercise. The first method involves an electron leak, occurring during exhaustive exercise regimen. This is because the body’s demand for oxygen increases, giving more room to this electron leak. The second way is through ischemia perforation. This is due to the diverting and redirecting of blood flow to working muscles, leaving the other organs deprived of blood supply. Once exercise is done, blood circulation rushes back to these organs. This event has been linked to the production of free radicals.

The Connection

However, after knowing all these facts, there hasn’t been concrete evidence against exercise which could lead to the development of cancer. Except when exercising under the intense heat which may cause skin cancer, only benefits are inclined to exercise thus far.