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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2010 Nov;3(11):1484-92. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-10-0078. Epub 2010 Sep 28.

Wheel running-induced changes in plasma biomarkers and carcinogenic response in the 1-methyl-1-nitrosourea-induced rat model for breast cancer.

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Cancer Prevention Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.


The purpose of this investigation was to identify pathways by which physical activity, implemented as running in an activity wheel, inhibits carcinogenesis. The focus of this analysis was on 20 plasma biomarkers for glucose homeostasis, inflammation, cytokine function, and endocrine activity, known to be affected by a physically active lifestyle. Plasma for analysis was obtained from previously reported carcinogenesis experiments in which the effects on mammary carcinogenesis, induced by i.p. injection of 1-methyl-1-nitrosurea, of running on a motorized activity wheel or a nonmotorized free wheel were compared with sedentary controls. Wheel running reduced cancer incidence (P = 0.0004) and the number of cancers per animal (P = 0.005). Principal components analysis was used to reduce the 20 plasma biomarkers to a concise index that was significantly different by treatment group assignment (P < 0.0001). Statistical analyses provided evidence that supported the hypothesis of a mediational role of these molecules in accounting for the protective effect of wheel running on the carcinogenic process. In addition, the plasma biomarker index derived from principal components analysis was a good discriminator of treatment group assignment (only 4.5% of animals were misclassified). These findings suggest that the plasma biomarkers evaluated have utility in assessing the breast cancer response to a physical activity intervention. Identification of such biomarkers is critical in clinical studies for which evaluating the effects of physical activity on cancer outcomes (diagnosis, recurrence, or mortality) is not possible.

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