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Even Brisk Walks Help Reduce Cancer Risk

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on May 10, 2017

Whether you are rockin’ a Zumba class or taking a brisk walk, exercise can help you fight cancer.

A study announced last year by the American Institute for Cancer Research showed a stronger link between exercise and the reduction of risk of 13 cancers.

“It's the latest evidence in a growing area of research suggesting that exercise may play a role in both cancer prevention and healthy survivorship,” the story stated.

Researchers combined data from 1.4 million people who were part of a dozen U.S. and European studies. It is the first ever pooled analysis of physical activity and cancer incidence that has been done in the world.


The findings included:

  • For breast, endometrial and colon cancers, there is currently strong evidence that exercise reduces the risk by 25 to 30 percent.

  • Higher levels of leisure-time physical activity is linked to a 7 percent lower risk of total cancer. This is after adjusting for age, sex, smoking and alcohol consumption.

  • The risk of developing seven cancer types was 20 percent (or more) lower among the most active participants as compared with the least active. Active is defined as 7 hours of week of brisk walking or 2.5 hours of jogging.

  • When comparing the most to the least active, lower risk was seen for esophageal, liver, stomach and kidney cancers.

  • Myeloma and cancers of the head and neck, rectum and bladder also showed reduced risks that were significant.

The study noted that obesity obviously plays a role.

“Obesity and overweight are a cause of 11 cancers and some of these, such as postmenopausal breast and endometrial, could be influenced by fat tissue,” the study concluded. “Body fat is an active organ that pumps out hormones and other compounds. Too many of these hormones, such as estrogen and insulin, can lead to higher cancer risk.”

Excess body fat is also strongly linked to chronic inflammation, which increases the risk of many cancers. 

The website The Truth About Cancer says that you don’t have to train for marathons to help reduce your cancer risk. Any activity that increases your heart rate and burns calories makes a difference. And they encourage you to make the workout fun.

Among their exercise recommendations:

  • Take regular walks with family, friends, and pets.

  • Jump on a mini-trampoline while watching TV.

  • Play with your kids in the pool or at the beach.

  • Turn “meeting over coffee” into a walk.

  • Housework (yes, it really works).

  • Take yoga, tai chi, pilates, water aerobics, or other “low-impact” classes.

  • Join a community athletic league (and meet new people).

  • Power walk while shopping.

  • Take the stairs if you have the option.

  • Park further from stores and use those extra steps.

  • Bike or walk to work, friends’ homes, or to do errands.

  • Use breaks at work to walk around the building with a co-worker.

For more information about cancer prevention, contact the Johnson Memorial Cancer Care Center at 317.736.3346.  

Topics: Cancer