New Research Suggests that Stretching May Reduce Cancer
Although the research on what constitutes the best form of stretching is all over the place, most experts would agree that good/normal ranges of motion in all anatomical areas are important. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that we know from peer-review that exercise is beneficial for those with cancer. Last month, the journal Scientific Reports published a Stretching Reduces Tumor Growth study in a Mouse Breast Cancer Model. The study concluded:
There is growing interest in developing non-pharmacological treatments that could boost natural defenses against cancer and contribute to primary and secondary cancer prevention. Recent studies have shown that gentle daily stretching for 10 minutes can reduce local connective tissue inflammation and fibrosis. Mechanical factors within the stroma can influence the tumor microenvironment. 66 female mice underwent bilateral injection of primary mouse mammary tumor cells into the third mammary fat pad. Mice were then randomized to stretch vs. no stretch, and treated for 10 minutes once a day, for four weeks. Tumor volume at end-point was 52 percent smaller in the stretch group, compared to the no-stretch group in the absence of any other treatment. Cytotoxic immune responses were activated and levels of Specialized Pro-Resolving Mediators (SPMs) were elevated in the stretch group. These results suggest a link between immune exhaustion, inflammation resolution, and tumor growth. Stretching is a gentle, non-pharmacological intervention that could become an important component of cancer treatment and prevention.
Did you catch the magnitude of what these authors said? In the breast cancer subjects, a measly 10 minutes of stretching a day was enough, not only to increase specific immune compounds that target cancer cells but also to decrease levels of programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1), a major marker of immune system exhaustion. (Warning: Caution must always be used when boosting the immune system).
How Inflammation Causes Disease
Fibrosis/scar tissue in the stromal connective tissues acts sort of like a perverse scaffolding, allowing cancer to take root and “connect” to your tissue bed, tapping into your blood supply and nutrition source in the process while giving it a pattern to grow on. Think of it as though your tissues are being hijacked.
For quite some time, we’ve known that cancer is included in the same class of diseases as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and numerous others. What’s the common denominator? You already know the answer: inflammation. Furthermore, we know that inflammation, by its very nature, ends up causing some degree of fibrosis, 100 percent of the time.
Never forget that despite the name of the disease, one way or another, fibrosis is at the root and is considered our nation’s number one cause of death, a fact that is unfortunately lost not only on average people but on most of the medical community as well.
The area of cancer research that consistently draws the most attention is breast cancer. Neurologist Dr. Helen Langevin did a talk at Harvard’s Osher Center Integrative Medicine on her lab’s experiment looking at the effects of stretching on breast cancer, as seen in a mouse model. Dr. Langevin is one of the growing number of scientists talking about the fascial connection in all diseases as being much larger than anyone could previously have dreamed. How else do you explain tumors in stretched subjects being less than half the size of the tumors in unstretched subjects?
Complementary Practices, including Yoga, Can Help Reduce Inflammation
Think about it like this. Even if you decide to treat your cancer conventionally, how cool is it to know that you can add simple things like an anti-inflammatory diet (especially effective once you understand the “Warberg Effect”), stretching and yoga practice, rebounding (trampolining), grounding (aka “earthing”), and others to your whatever else you’re doing.
What do these have in common? They are all based on reducing the amount of inflammation in the body.
If you are interested in hearing Dr. Langevin talk about this study, it’s included below.
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