Could exercise be key to preventing cancer?

You don't have to run marathons to reap the benefits of exercise, regular brisk walks or bike rides can provide a major health boost. Photo / Getty
You don't have to run marathons to reap the benefits of exercise, regular brisk walks or bike rides can provide a major health boost. Photo / Getty

According to a recent study, pounding the pavements could help to ward off more than a dozen different types of cancer.

The major study, carried out by the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, USA, analysed 1.4 million people, and the results fell firmly in favour of exercisers.

Those who did more physical activity were 42 per cent less likely to develop oesophageal cancer, and 27 per cent less likely to develop tumours in the liver.

Exercises were also had 26 per cent less risk of lung cancer. and were 23 per cent less likely to suffer from kidney cancer.

Despite exercise having a range of proven health benefits, 31 per cent of us aren't active enough. Photo / Getty
Despite exercise having a range of proven health benefits, 31 per cent of us aren't active enough. Photo / Getty

Despite the raft of health benefits, scientists say inactivity is all too common, with 31 per cent of people worldwide not meeting the recommended levels of exercise.

Dr Steven Moore, of the National Cancer Institute, said if working out decreases the risk of cancer this should be relevant to public health officials and anyone involved in prevention of the disease.

While exercising had a particular impact on certain types of cancer, overall, exercising reduced the risk of any type of cancer by seven per cent.

As part of the research, scientists looked at data from 12 US and European studies carried out between 1987 and 2004, and compared levels of physical activity with the incidence of various different types of cancer.

During an average of 11 years of follow-up 186,932 cancers were identified among the 1.4 million people in the study.

"These findings support promoting physical activity as a key component of population-wide cancer prevention and control efforts," Dr Moore told the Daily Mail.

A previous study from University College London found only two-and-a-half hours of moderate exercise per week can suppress the inflammation it the body believed to be linked to cancer.

The research found middle-aged people who became active had lower inflammatory markers in their blood at the end of the ten-year study.

While the results in the most recent cancer study showed promising evidence of the importance of exercise, Dr Moore told the Daily Mail that he could not fully exclude the possibility that diet, smoking and other factors may affect the results.

Also, the study asked people to self-report their physical activity, meaning they could have made errors when recalling the amount they carried out.

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