Exercise May Cut the Risk of 13 Cancers


Exercise May Cut the Risk of 13 Cancers


It helps to know that if you get your exercise daily, you will be healthier and have fewer problems. A new large study looked at the health benefits of regular exercise in 1.44 million people. Researchers found that those who exercised at least 150+ minutes per week (such as walking briskly), or did vigorous activity for 75+ minutes per week, such as jogging, versus those who got little or no regular activity were significantly less likely to get cancer. In fact, they had lower risk for 13 different cancers including 3 of the most common cancers – breast, colon, and lung cancer.



The link between leisure time physical activity and cancer risk remained even after adjusting for excess body weight and smoking. Those who exercised more than the minimum listed above saw even lower cancer risk.


How exercise helps prevent cancer is not fully known but exercise causes beneficial changes in hormones, inflammation, immunity, obesity, digestion, and overall health. The bottom line is that daily physical activity is good preventive medicine. Not only does it reduce your risk of cancer but it also gives you more energy, improves mood and happiness, enhances both physical and mental performance, and adds years of healthy life.


Other lifestyle changes recommended by the American Cancer Society to reduce cancer risk include:


  • Eat a healthy diet with emphasis on plant foods

  • Limit how much processed and red meat you eat

  • Eat at least 2.5 to 3 cups of fruits and vegetables daily

  • Choose whole grains in place of refined grain products

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

  • If you drink alcohol, limit intake

  • Avoid all tobacco

  • Use sun block or protective clothing when out in the direct sun

  • Get regular preventive exams and checkups


JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(6):816-825, June 2016. Review written by Don Hall, DrPH, CHES)


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