Lactic Acid and Cancer Growth

This week, new research was published linking lactic acid levels in the body to cancer growth.  Inigo San Millan, an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Director of the Sports Performance Program at the CU Sports Medicine and Performance Center in Boulder, Colorado published this study.  The twitter headline read: “Lactate May Be Key For Cancer Development.”  The full article is here:

My first thought, being an athlete, was is the lactic acid that my body produces when I exercise hard going to encourage cancer to grow in my body?  This is NOT the case.  This research specifically measures the amount of lactic acid surrounding cancer cells.  Here are some important points to consider:

  1. Based on what we know today, when you participate in regular vigorous exercise, your muscles produce lactic acid as a by product of glucose breakdown used to fuel your body.  When lactic acid is present, your body is very efficient at breaking down and removing from the blood stream.  These are short term bursts of lactic acid and are usually broken down quickly as well.  The more active you are regularly, the more efficiently your body rids itself of all lactic acid.  Exercise is a protective measure to rid your body of lactate.
  2. Cancer cells encourage an acidic environment around them to most likely protect them from immune system attacks and to keep the area around them conducive to growth.  This lactic acid is different from the byproduct of glycolysis breakdown when exercising because research suggests this type of lactic acid may be produced by a cancer cell.
  3. Cancer cells are complicated.  Science is constantly finding new ways to help us battle them.  We all carry abnormal cells in our bodies.  The key is, a healthy immune system is excellent at singling these cells out and eliminating them.  We just need to nurture our immune systems with good health and regular exercise to give it as much strength and resilience as possible.  A good first step to good health and cancer prevention.



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