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Exercise and Cancer: Cut the risk by staying active

  • Posted on- Aug 25, 2015
  • 337 Views

Little to moderate exercise at least four days a week can make a huge difference in your overall well-being. Diverse studies have shown that regular exercise can minimize the risk of different forms of cancer by half. Take small steps at a time like swimming, walking, running or biking. Physical activities not only lower your cancer risk but shield your body from heart disease and diabetes. You can always take help from your friends or family members to plan an exercise program. If you are a reluctant starter, they might motivate you or join you.

However, it is important to remember there is no sure-shot way to prevent cancer, but exercise may reduce the risk of the following cancers:

  1. Colon cancer: The National Cancer Institute states that people who exercise regularly are 40%-50% less prone to colon cancer as compared to those who don't exercise. There is enough evidence available which justifies the incorporation of exercises in daily routine to reduce the cancer risk.
  2. Breast cancer: Women who indulge in little-to-moderate exercise for at least three hours per week are 30%-40% less likely to develop breast cancer. The result holds true for all women irrespective of age, risk level of breast cancer and family’s medical history.
  3. Uterine cancer: Research has found that active women who exercise regularly have reduced rate (38%- 46%) of procuring uterine cancer. Exercise decreases estrogen levels and keeps obesity at bay, both of which are instrumental in uterine cancer development.
  4. Lung cancer: The link between exercise and less chances of developing lung cancer is still unclear but people who exercise regularly are less likely to use tobacco, which is the main culprit of lung cancer.

How physical activities contribute to lowering cancer risk?

Exercises can help you avoid the factors that are associated with triggering cancer, such as:
  • Obesity: Being obese (overweight) can increase an individual’s risk of developing and dying from various types of cancers like postmenopausal breast cancer, pancreatic cancerthyroid cancer, uterine cancer, esophageal cancer etc. A combination of low-calorie diet and regular aerobic exercise can work wonders for your body and help it lose weight. Even when an individual eats more, aerobic exercises result in reducing weight and lowering abdominal fat. You can consult with your doctor to come up with an exercise regime.
  • Insulin resistance: Pancreas in the body release insulin hormone that converts blood sugar to energy. When the body is unable to respond to insulin properly, it increases the chances of getting some cancers. Regular exercise improves insulin resistance.
  • Inflammation: Inflammation or swelling is the body's reaction to injury and disease. Some diseases like inflammatory bowel disease are linked with several cancers. Physical activities may help reduce inflammation and ultimately chance of procuring cancer.

The debate is still open on the relationship between intense physical activity and cancer. But one thing that is clear is exercise is good for the heart, keeps weight in check, improves sleep patterns and lessens the risk of cancer.