- A study found that people with more muscle respond better to a promising new cancer treatment than those with less.
- In the small study, having sarcopenia (muscle degradation) meant lung cancer patients were less able to fight off tumours following the treatment.
- The Japanese researchers say their results are “surprisingly emphatic,” despite the small sample size.
Lifting weights, whether light or small, is a well known way to sculpt a lean physique.
However, a new study has found that building muscle doesn’t just make you look better, but can result in some huge health benefits, too.
In the study, conducted by Osaka University in Japan, people with more muscle mass were found to respond better to cancer treatment than those with less.
Researchers concluded that people with sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle mass) were more likely to respond poorly to treatments for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
The study was on a small sample size (42 people), but it assessed how responsive their bodies were to promising new cancer-treating drugs known as programmed death (PD)-1 inhibitors.
The drugs are used to target various types of cancer and work with a person’s own immune system to boost their ability to fight cancer cells.
“Sarcopenia is a well known risk factor associated with poor outcomes for several cancer types,” said lead study author, Takayuki Shiroyama.
“Because muscle degradation is associated with a dysregulated immune response, we wanted to investigate how, in lung cancer patients, sarcopenia impacts the efficacy of PD-1 inhibitor therapy.”
The 42 participants, all of whom had lung cancer, all had their skeletal muscle mass measured before treatment with PD-1 inhibitors.
The researchers found that 89.9% of the participants with sarcopenia (less muscle) couldn’t fight off tumour growth, whereas 38.1% of the cancer patients with more muscle remained in remission one year after the treatment.
“The results were surprisingly emphatic,” said senior study author Atsushi Kumanogoh. “We found that the treatment outcomes for patients with sarcopenia at the start of therapy were far worse than those without.”
The researchers believe the amount of muscle the participants held was a crucial factor in how well they responded to the treatment, despite the small sample size.
“Our findings suggest that baseline skeletal muscle mass has a substantial impact on PD-1 inhibitor efficacy,” said Shiroyama.
“As such, skeletal muscle mass might be useful for predicting whether treatment is likely to be effective.”
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