Being Physically Fit Improves Cancer Odds

The more fit men are, the less the risk of dying from cancer?whether or not they smoke’say researchers at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas and at the University of Minnesota, who followed nearly 26,000 men, ages 30 to 87, for an average of 10 years.

Men with the best cardiorespiratory fitness, as determined by a treadmill test, had 55% less risk of dying from cancer than men who were the least fit. Moderately fit men had 38% less risk.

Increasing fitness can improve immune and antioxidant defense systems, the researchers note, which may inhibit tumor formation. Physical activity may also decrease testosterone levels (a risk marker for prostate cancer) and intestinal transit time, shortening the amount of time the colon is exposed to carcinogens.

Moderate fitness results from aerobic activity, such as jogging or brisk walking 20 to 40 minutes, three to five times a week.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, May 2002.
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