Many studies have also highlighted the role of physical activity in both the prevention and treatment of cancer. Again, one of the primary mechanisms responsible for driving down your cancer risk is the fact that exercise decreases your insulin resistance. By creating a low sugar environment in your body, the growth and spread of cancer cells are significantly discouraged.
Movement also improves circulation, driving more oxygen into your tissues and circulating immune cells in your blood. According to a 2003 paper,12 more than 100 epidemiologic studies looking at the impact of physical activity on cancer prevention reveal that:
“[P]physically active men and women have about a 30 to 40 percent reduction in the risk of developing colon cancer, compared with inactive persons … With regard to breast cancer, there is reasonably clear evidence that physically active women have about a 20 to 30 percent reduction in risk, compared with inactive women.”
This pattern of a 20 to 40 percent risk reduction appears again and again in studies looking at the effects of exercise on cancer, although some show even higher rates of protection. A small sampling of such studies includes the following:
- A recent Danish study, which followed more than 5,130 middle-aged men for 44 years, found that the better a man’s respiratory fitness, the less likely he is to die from cancer. More specifically, for every 10 mL/kg/min increase in VO2 Max at baseline (around the age of 49), the risk of dying from cancer was reduced by 17 percent, and the risk of dying from any cause in the next 40+ years was reduced by 11 percent.13,14
- Being fit in middle age also cut men’s risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer by 55 percent and bowel cancer by 44 percent, and reduced the risk of dying from lung-, bowel- and prostate cancer (if they did get it) by 32 percent.15,16
- Animal research suggests regular exercise may be the key to significantly reduce your chances of developing liver cancer, which is among the most common types of cancer.17,18
- Breast- and colon cancer patients who exercise regularly have half the recurrence rate as non-exercisers.19
- Weight training cut men’s risk of dying from cancer by 40 percent, and similar findings have been reported in other studies involving both men and women.
Read more here.