A few words about exercise and cancer

[This is the third in a series of articles here at FitNotesNH on the role exercise plays in preventing and/or helping to improve certain medical conditions.  We’ve explored diabetes, arthritis, stress and more.  Look for the FitWise logo! Our hope is that you will learn along with your fellow Wellness Center members.]

Some of the benefits of exercise, such as losing weight, seem obvious. But did you know that regular exercise also helps reduce the risk of cancer?

A great deal of scientific evidence strongly suggests that regular exercise can reduce risk of breast and colon cancer. Other studies link regular physical activity with a reduced risk of prostate, lung, and endometrial cancer.

How much exercise do you need to get the benefit? The standard is 30 minutes of moderately intense activity five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three days a week or more. And this is one place where more is definitely better! According to one Finnish study, people who exercised vigorously for at least 30 minutes a day were 50 percent less likely to die prematurely from cancer. Where else can you get odds like that?

Scientists don’t actually know why exercise is protective against cancer—it could be because exercise gets things moving, which helps push carcinogens out of the organs that cancer tends to target. It could be because it controls hormone production. Again, researchers don’t know why exercise reduces cancer risk, they just know it works.

SOURCES:

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/physicalactivity

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/phys-ed-does-exercise-reduce-your-cancer-risk/

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