Numerous studies and clinical reports have come to light in recent years on the serious health risks of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, so much so that sitting has been categorized as the “new smoking.” The relationship between physical fitness and health and wellness, particularly as it relates to cancer recovery, has also been studied at length. The general consensus has been that some form of moderate activity is beneficial for physical as well as mental and emotional health, especially for patients in treatment for and recovering from cancer. Whether it’s tennis or yoga, staying active is good for mind, body, and spirit.
Cancer and Exercise – By the Numbers
A comprehensive review of multiple U.S. and European based studies by the National Cancer Institute has compiled data showing the benefits of regular exercise on a range of cancers, many of which show staggering rates of risk reduction for the most active individuals. With over a million subjects, the study was able to target specific types of cancer, and how much regular exercise could lower a person’s risk of developing it in their lifetime.
How Low Can You Go (To Lower Cancer Risk with Exercise?)
Over an 11 year period, the National Cancer Institute study found the following averages among the participants with the highest and most consistent levels of regular exercise:
- Breast cancer – risk factor lowered by 10%
- Bladder cancer – risk factor lowered by 13%
- Rectal cancer – risk factor lowered by 13%
- Head and neck cancer – risk factor lowered by 15%
- Colon cancer – risk factor lowered by 16%
- Myeloma – risk factor lowered by 17%
- Myeloid leukemia – risk factor lowered by 20%
- Endometrial cancer – risk factor lowered by 21%
- Stomach cancer – risk factor lowered by 22%
- Kidney cancer – risk factor lowered by 23%
- Lung cancer – risk factor lowered by 26%
- Liver cancer – risk factor lowered by 27%
- Esophageal cancer – risk factor lowered by 42%
Overall, the researchers found that the risks for cancers across the board were cut by as much as 7% for regular exercisers. The average activity time amounted to about two and a half hours a week per person of moderate to vigorous physical activities, such as:
How Can Exercise and Physical Activity Levels Affect Cancer Risk?
Physical fitness and movement can impact our health in a number of ways. One of the biggest benefits is that it helps people to maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity, which can complicate and even increase the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and diabetes for many people. But in addition to indirect lifestyle factors, exercise was found to have a direct relationship to potential tumor growth as well.
The researchers believe that it could help to lower and negate some of the factors that promote tumor growth, such as hormone levels like estrogen in breast and endometrial cancer. It can also help to regulate insulin, and lower the risk of inflammation.
Lifestyle Modification Tips for Cancer Prevention
While cancer is not always preventable or avoidable, numerous studies have shown that taking certain precautions in addition to maintaining healthy activity levels can help to minimize the risk for some of the most common forms.
Don’t Smoke – The link between smoking and lung cancer has been established for generations. However, many people may not be aware that in addition to the lungs, tobacco use can increase the risk of developing cancer in many other parts of the body as well, including the:
Tobacco use should be avoided for overall health and protection against a wide range of cancers.
Healthy Diet – Eating sufficient fruit and vegetables and limiting processed foods, especially meats and refined sugars, can help with weight management and cancer prevention. Separate studies have found that high consumption of red meat can increase the risk of certain cancers, whereas consuming healthy fats through nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish like tuna and salmon can help mitigate many health risks, including cancer.
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen – Among the participants of the study, the researchers did find one caveat – melanoma rates seemed to increase, most likely due to active individuals being much more likely to exercise in the sun. Melanoma is one of the most common forms of cancer, and using sunscreen and protective clothing and gear while in the sun, including a hat and sunglasses, is very important.
Consume alcohol in moderation – Protecting the liver from excessive alcohol is the most obvious, but alcohol can also increase estrogen levels, which can cause estrogen receptor breast tumors to grow.
Practice safe sex – Certain viruses can increase the risk of developing cancer – Hepatitis B and C in the liver, and HPV (human papilloma virus) in the cervix. Practicing safe sex and avoiding risky behaviors like sharing needles can protect from these viruses.
Get a check up – It may seem old fashioned, but scheduling a regular physical and medical check up during healthy times can help to catch changes in the body or cancer at an earlier stage, when many forms are the most treatable.
Contact the Sarcoma Oncology Center in Los Angeles Today
To learn more about the clinical trials and advanced diagnostic and treatment options for rare soft tissue cancers, contact the Sarcoma Oncology Center in Santa Monica by calling 310-552-9999 to schedule a consultation today.