Researchers presented at Digestive Disease Week that physical activity including walking and muscle-strengthening activities significantly reduced the risk of cirrhosis-related deaths
“The benefit of exercise is not a new concept, but the impact of exercise on mortality from cirrhosis and from liver cancer has not yet been explored on this scale,” said Tracey Simon, MD, lead researcher on the study and instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, in a statement. “Our findings show that both walking and strength training contribute to substantial reductions in risk of cirrhosis-related death, which is significant because we know very little about modifiable risk factors.”
Dr Simon and colleagues explained that there are currently no guidelines for exercise targeted at preventing liver disease, however, hoped their research would help guide data in the right direction to advise patients with confidence.
“The study followed 68,449 women from the Nurses’ Health Study and 48,748 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, without known liver disease at baseline,” explained a press release. “Participants provided highly accurate data on physical activity, including type and intensity, every two years from 1986 through 2012, which allowed researchers to prospectively examine the association between physical activity and cirrhosis-related death.”
Results showed that adults in the top 20%, had a 73% lower risk for cirrhosis-related death than those in the bottom 20%.
“In the U.S., mortality due to cirrhosis is increasing dramatically, with rates expected to triple by the year 2030. In the face of this alarming trend, information on modifiable risk factors that might prevent liver disease is needed,” said Dr Simon in a press release. “Our findings support further research to define the optimal type and intensity of physical activity to prevent adverse outcomes in patients at risk for cirrhosis.”—Edan Stanley