Recent research shows that regular exercise can lower your cancer risk. Cancer is the world’s leading cause of death, but about 1 in 3 cases can be prevented, according to the World Health Organization. Now it looks like prevention can start with exercise.
Researchers pooled data from nine published studies that included more than 750,000 men and women. They found that the recommended amount of physical activity significantly reduced the risk of these cancers: breast, colon, endometrial, kidney, liver, myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Why exercise lowers your cancer risk:
- Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese raises your risk for several cancers. Nearly 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. Extra weight increases the risk of cancer of the esophagus, pancreas, colon, kidneys, and thyroid gland. If every adult in the U.S. cut their body mass index (a measure of your body fat) by 1%, it might cut the number of new cases by as many as 100,000.
- Exercise helps your body regulate hormone levels. Increased levels of some hormones can increase your cancer risk.
- Exercise speeds digestion, which may reduce the time that potentially harmful substances are in the colon.
How much exercise do you need?
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes vigorous exercise each week. Best is if you do a combination of both. You can also split up your exercise sessions into short intervals of as little as 10 minutes.
Exercise and colon cancer
The bowel helps us use the food we eat. It also processes waste which passes out of our bodies. By being active, we help move food through our bodies. This reduces the amount of time any harmful chemicals in food waste are in contact with our bowel, helping to prevent cancer. In addition, being active also helps control levels of inflammation in the bowel. Too much inflammation can increase your cancer risk.
The study found that the risk of colon cancer in men was reduced between 8% for moderate exercise and 14% for vigorous activity.
Researchers found that for women’s breast cancer, the reduction ranged from 6% for moderate exercise to 10% for a vigorous work out. Why is that? Cancer starts when cells divide too much and multiple out of control. Estrogen could encourage cells in the breast to divide more often. But exercise can reduce the levels of estrogens, helping to prevent breast cancer.
Exercise is great for weight control. It’s also an effective way to improve your mood. And now we know that it may also prevent cancer.