Exercise, fitness earlier in life reduce cancer risk: Study


A new Swedish study confirms the positive impact of regular exercise on health over time. The study was conducted over 33 years and examined the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness in young men and cancer occurrence in specific sites as they aged.

The report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concludes that there is a lower risk of developing cancers at nine of 18 sites among men who were fit and active in their youth.

Organs that showed a reduced risk of cancer include the head and neck, esophagus and stomach, pancreas, and liver, as well as the rectum, kidney, colon, and rectum.

Men with higher cardiorespiratory fitness had a 20%-40% lower risk of developing cancer in the gastrointestinal tract.

A higher level of cardiorespiratory health was also linked to a higher incidence of malignant skin and prostate cancer. The former was due to increased prostate screening, while the latter was due to higher UV exposure during outdoor activities.

The study found that, despite the anomaly in the results, some cancers could be prevented by men who maintain a certain level of cardiorespiratory health during their younger years.

A 2008 report found that regular moderate or high-intensity physical activity can help reduce the risk for several cancers, including breast, colon, and endometrium.

Cancer and physical activity

But that’s not all: they can also lead to several obesity-related cancers. They can also cause cancers.

“We have observed an increase in cancers among overweight and obese individuals, including some hormone-driven cancers,” said Dr Dayananda Srinivasan. He is a surgical oncologist and the founder of Diya Cancer Care.

Dr Anil Kamath is a senior consultant at Apollo Hospitals in Bangalore. He says that obesity and reduced physical activity have a strong link with endometrial cancer.

The increase in body fat increases insulin levels and some pro-inflammatory enzymes, which can lead to cancer.

Exercise and Cancer Prevention

Physical activity includes office work, household chores, and recreational activities. You will need to be active in order to do these activities. Regular exercise can help prevent cancer.

“WHO suggests, [in reference to] oncology, that people exercise at least 2 hours per week,” says Dr Shivam Shingla, a medical oncologist consultant at SL Raheja Hospital – A Fortis Associates, Mumbai. Exercise can help reduce cancer risk by 50%, as lack of exercise directly correlates with colon, breast, and uterus cancer. You can do activities that make you sweat, such as brisk walking and stair-climbing. Cancer can be treated early and, in most cases, cured.

Exercises in cancer treatment

Dr Kamath believes that a person’s physical condition must be good to “tolerate it better” before they can undergo treatment.

Dr Srinivasan says, “For a better outcome in treatment, a lifestyle change that includes physical exercise is ideal.”

According to a review, even after successful treatment of cancer, some side effects and symptoms may still occur. Physical activity can help to reduce these symptoms. Physical activity can improve both physiological and mental health during and after cancer treatments.


  •  Researchers from Sweden have found that being fit can help reduce the risk of cancers of the head and neck area, as well as those in the esophagus and stomach.  
  •  Regular exercise and increased physical activity can reduce the risk of some cancers related to obesity and hormones.  
  •  Physical activity is important for the fight against cancer. It’s crucial before, during, and after treatment.

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