02/11/2013 02:56 pm ET Updated Feb 12, 2013

Prostate Cancer Risk And Exercise: Benefits May Vary By Race Study Shows

The benefits of exercise aren't all created equal, according to new research from the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center in North Carolina. Especially when it comes to lowering a man's risk for prostate cancer.

In a study of 307 men (164 white; 143 black), researchers found that moderately or highly active white men in their 60s were 53 percent less likely to have a prostate cancer biopsy test positive for cancer compared with those who were not very active or who were sedentary.

No link was found between exercise and prostate cancer risk for black men, however, a group at particularly high risk for developing prostate cancer and more likely to die from it.

The study's lead author, Lionel L. Bañez, MD, says that these findings, which were published in the Feb. 11 online edition of the journal Cancer, may reveal why African-American race is a risk factor for prostate cancer and aggressive prostate cancer, but "further studies are needed to investigate the mechanism behind the racial disparity," he adds.

In a controversial study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine last year, researchers reported a similar gap in the benefits of exercise -- specifically that higher levels of physical activity among adolescent white girls was associated with lower levels of obesity in white adolescent girls by the time they turned 14. But for black adolescent girls, exercise a didn't produce the same result, study authors found.

Critics of that research suggested that there could be other factors at play, which may also be the case in Dr. Banez's prostate cancer research.

"Maybe there is some effect of exercise," Dr. Steven Clinton, an oncologist at the Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital, told Live Science. But the study is so small "that one really couldn’t establish any strong conclusions about race, or set recommendations based on this," he said.

Here's a look at some of the other prostate cancer discoveries made last year.



Prostate Cancer Research: 10 Things We've Learned So Far This Year

10 Biggest Prostate Cancer Findings So Far