Stimulating Life May Slow Cancer Growth

COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 9 (UPI) — Living a life of physical, mental and social stimulation may curb cancer growth, Ohio State University cancer researchers said.

The researchers found a stimulating environment activates a nervous system pathway the brain uses to communicate with fat tissue, the Columbus, Ohio, university said Thursday in a release. The fat cells are “told” to stop releasing a hormone called leptin into the bloodstream. Leptin normally curbs appetite, but the study found it accelerates cancer growth.

Researchers created an enriched environment for 20 mice in containers equipped with toys, hiding places, running wheels, and unlimited food and water supplies. Control mice were housed in in smaller, standard lab containers without toys but having unlimited food and water.

“People tend to think that cancer survivors should avoid stress, but our data suggests that this is not completely true,” said study leader Matthew During, professor of neuroscience, neurological surgery, molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics. “The anti-cancer effect we observed in this study was not due simply to increased activity by the animals, but rather it was induced by social and physical challenges that cause mild stress.”

During said the most dramatic hormonal change was the drop in leptin from fat after enhanced housing conditions activated the nervous system pathway.

“That pathway is also present in humans, where it is likely to be activated by a more complex and challenging life,” he said.

The study was published in Friday’s issue of the journal Cell.

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