Oxidative Stress and Fitness Changes in Cancer Patients after Exercise Training

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Apr;48(4):607-14. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000821.


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of an exercise intervention (EX) on muscular strength, cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and oxidative stress in cancer survivors compared with a nonexercising cancer control group (CON).

Methods: Fifteen cancer patients and seven age-matched individuals with no history of cancer (NC) participated in this study. A blood draw and assessments of muscular strength and CRF were administered to cancer survivors within 6 wk of completing radiation or chemotherapy, and again 10 wk later. Eight cancer patients completed a 10-wk supervised exercise intervention, whereas seven continued standard care. Baseline oxidative stress was compared between cancer patients and the NC group. Changes in plasma protein carbonyls, 8-OHdG, and Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity were compared between groups using repeated-measures ANOVA, and correlations between fitness and oxidative stress changes were evaluated.

Results: Baseline antioxidant capacity was significantly lower, and plasma protein carbonyls were significantly higher in cancer patients compared with NC (P = 0.001). EX had a significant increase in antioxidant capacity (P < 0.001) and decrease in protein carbonyls (P = 0.023), whereas CON did not. Improvements in composite arm (41%, P = 0.002) and leg strength (34%, P = 0.008), isometric handgrip strength (11%, P = 0.015), and V˙O2peak (16%, P = 0.018) were significant in EX but not in CON. 8-OHdG changes were significantly correlated with changes in V˙O2peak (r = -0.89, P < 0.001), arm strength (r = -0.67, P = 0.004), and leg strength (r = -0.56, P = 0.019).

Conclusion: A whole-body exercise intervention for cancer survivors may be an effective method of concurrently increasing muscular strength, CRF, and antioxidant capacity while decreasing markers of oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / physiology
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness / physiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Hand Strength
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*


  • Antioxidants