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Regular Physical Activity May Boost Mesothelioma Survival

Regular Physical Activity Boosts Survival

There is new evidence that regular physical activity may help patients with mesothelioma live longer. 

A Korean professor has just published the findings of his study on physical activity among lung cancer patients. The findings may be relevant for people with the lung-related cancer, pleural mesothelioma.  

Dr. Junga Lee analyzed 11 studies. The studies included more than 6 million lung cancer patients and spanned a 19 year period. 

Dr. Lee found that patients’ cardiorespiratory fitness, walking speed, and level of physical activity correlated with how long they lived. Even their leisure activities played a role. 

Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer

Pleural mesothelioma starts in the lining around the lungs. Because it does not arise from lung cancer cells, it is not a true lung cancer. However, pleural mesothelioma does have a lot in common with lung cancer. 

Both types of cancer impact the lungs. Both can cause symptoms such as cough, chest pain, and breathing difficulty as tumors grow.  Mesothelioma and lung cancer are both likely to impact a patient’s level of physical activity.

One big difference between the two cancers is their prevalence. Lung cancer is the most common cause of US cancer deaths. But only about 2,500 patients receive a mesothelioma diagnosis each year. Some lung cancer treatments are also used to treat people with pleural mesothelioma. 

Physical Activity and Mesothelioma Survival

Dr. Lee is a professor of sports medicine at Kyung Hee University in South Korea. He combed the medical literature for studies on the link between an active lifestyle and lung cancer survival. 

He looked for studies on physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, walking speed and leisure activity among people with lung cancer. Cardiorespiratory fitness (CF) is how well the heart and lungs supply oxygen to the body during physical activity. 

Dr. Lee found 11 relevant studies between January 2000 and August 2019. The studies included data from millions of lung cancer patients. 

The biggest takeaway is that lung cancer patients with more than 2.5 hours of physical activity a week lived longer than less active people. Poor CF, slow walking speed, and inactive leisure activities increased the risk of death from all causes. 

“Greater than 9.45 metabolic equivalents of cardiorespiratory fitness, more than 150 minutes per week of physical activity, fast walking speed, and keeping active should be recommended to increase lung cancer patient survivorship,” he concludes.

The cases of long-term mesothelioma survivors suggest that the same may be true for them. 

Australian Paul Kraus, the world’s longest living mesothelioma patient, has kept his cancer in check for more than 20 years. He eats a plant-based diet, takes supplements, meditates, and engages in regular physical activity. 

You can read more about Paul’s experience in his book, Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers.


Lee, Junga, “Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Physical Activity, Walking Speed, Lack of Participation in Leisure Activities, and Lung Cancer Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies”, June 24, 2020, Cancer Nursing, https://journals.lww.com/cancernursingonline/Abstract/9000/Cardiorespiratory_Fitness,_Physical_Activity,.98936.aspx

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