Researchers studied mice and found that regular exercise can potentially treat patients with liver cancer. Cardio workouts can help to reduce the risk of developing liver cancer or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
HCC is one the most common types of cancer that originates as tumors in liver cells. An estimated 5.4 percent of all cancers are related to HCC liver cancer worldwide. This type of liver cancer causes 695,000 deaths each year.
The study involved two groups of mice that were fed a high fat diet and were divided into two groups. One group of mice was an exercise group and the other group was sedentary and would not exercise. Mice from the exercise group ran on a motorized treadmill five days a week for 60 minutes.
Researchers analyzed that after 32 weeks of cardio exercise, 71 percent of mice on the high fat diet developed liver tumors larger than 10mm. Among the group of mice that did not exercise, 100 percent developed liver tumors larger than 10mm. In the exercise group, the average number and volume of HCC liver tumors were reduced compared to the non-exercise group.
"We know that modern, unhealthy lifestyles predispose people to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which may lead to liver cancer; however it's been previously unknown whether regular exercise reduces the risk of developing HCC. This research is significant because it opens the door for further studies to prove that regular exercise can reduce the chance of people developing HCC," European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) Educational Councillor Prof. Jean-Francois Dufour said in a press release.
"The results could eventually lead to some very tangible benefits for people staring down the barrel of liver cancer and I look forward to seeing human studies in this important area in the future," Dufour said. Findings from the research were announced at the 2013 International Liver Congress.
Among men, HCC liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer, and the eighth most common cancer in women.