A new study has shown that regular exercise has another added benefit – this time, it’s related to cancer. Staying fit lowers your risk of dying from lung and bowel cancers – as well as from developing the cancers in the first place.
Everyone talks about the multitude of benefits of exercise – and routine exercise, not just a rare workout here or there. It’s been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, improve your mood, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your sleep and increase your chances of living longer, among a list of other things listed in a MedlinePlus. Exercise is also known to boost heart, lung and immune function.
According to the Daily Mail, The Times reported that the National Health Service (the United Kingdom’s largest health website) recommends that adults exercise for at least two and a half hours a week – but only two in five adults do so. However, according to the British Heart Foundation’s Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour Report 2017, there are a lot of consequences of inactivity.
Overview of the study
Regardless, this study, which was covered in the same Daily Mail article, looked specifically at the effects of exercise on cancer. It was conducted by Dr. Catherine Handy Marshall, an assistant professor of oncology at John Hopkins University.
“‘Our findings are one of the first, largest, and most diverse cohorts to look at the impact of fitness on cancer outcomes’,” – Dr. Marshall (as quoted by the Daily Mail).
49,143 people were analyzed, with an average age of 54, and participants were tracked for about seven years. The research involved using fitness tests (with treadmills) that were conducted over the span of 18 years – between 1991 and 2009.
The study’s results
The results, which were published in Cancer (an American Cancer Society international journal), were generally promising. However, 388 participants did develop lung cancer and 220 did develop bowel tumors, with 282 and 89 respectively, dying.
Nonetheless, other statistics proved more positive. Using fitness as the scale, the top fifth of participants (who were the fittest) were 77% less likely to develop lung cancer and were 61% less likely to develop bowel tumors.
The article also noted that regular exercise reduces inflammation – and inflammation may be a cause of cancer. “[I]nflammation, which, if excessive, causes cells to divide more often,” the Daily Mail said. “Uncontrolled cell division can lead to the formation of tumours.”
Plus, exercise helps moves food quicker through the digestive tract. The faster that happens, the less time and contact any harmful chemicals have with the bowels, and thus the lower the chances of bowel cancer are.
Then, for those that did develop either cancer, the fittest top fifth (using that same scale) also had optimistic results. With regard to those that developed lung cancer, 44% were less likely to die from it.
Additionally, the top fifth fittest participants were 89% less likely to die from bowel cancer. According to the Daily Mail article, “Bowel cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US and is expected to kill 51,020 people this year, American Cancer Society statistics show.”
This study just adds to the existing extensive information and research that there is, that explains why exercise is so necessary and important to people’s health. With temperatures warming up as it gets closer to the start of summer, now is as good a time as any to start exercising – and you can enjoy the weather at the same time.