Exercise Reduces Cancer Risk

Exercise Reduces Cancer Risk
Increased physical activity reduces your risk of 13 different types of cancer, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. This was a meta-analysis of previous studies and the cancers prevented include esophageal, liver, kidney, stomach, endometrial, leukemia, myeloma, colon, head and neck, rectal, bladder, and breast cancer.  This study pooled data on 1.4 million people who were included in a number of other studies.  The subjects that were grouped as being the most physically active, did the equivalent amount of exercise of 7 hours per week of brisk walking or 2.5 hours of jogging, whereas the least active did only 20 minutes of brisk walking per week.

This study found that the more you exercise, the greater your reduction of risk of many cancers. Higher levels of physical activity compared to lower levels of physical activity conferred the following decreased risk of the following cancers: 42% esophageal adenocarcinoma; 27% liver; 23% kidney; 22% stomach; 21% endometrial; 20% myeloid leukemia; 17% myeloma; 16% colon; 15% head and neck, 13% rectal; 13% bladder; and 10% breast.  There was an overall 7% reduced risk of all cancers with higher levels of exercise.  There was an increase in melanoma rates in those who exercise, but this correlated with geographical areas where there is a lot of sun, so this was related to exercising outside without sun screen.

There is a growing body of evidence documenting the benefits of exercise in reducing the risk of cancer and improving survival. The American Institute for Cancer Research notes that exercise regulates the levels of several hormones (such as insulin) that reduces cancer risk.(2) Physical activity also increases the intestinal transit time of food through the colon, thus reducing exposure of the colon wall to dietary carcinogens. Exercise also reduces body fat levels, and this reduction in body fat is associated with a reduction in cancer risk. In addition, regular moderate amounts of exercise reduces inflammation, improves immune function, and reduces oxidative stress, all health benefits that reduce cancer risk.


1. Moore, SC, Lee I-Min, Weiderpass E, et al. Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults.  JAMA Intern Med. 2016; 176(6):816-825.
2. http://www.aicr.org/cancer-research-update/2016/05_18/cru-More-Evidence-of-Exercise-for-Cancer-Prevention.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
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