Healthy living

Walking more could prevent 10,000 cancer cases a year

Moderate exercise could prevent 10,000 cancer cases a year Other moderate exercise also counts

More than 10,000 cases of cancer a year could be prevented if people exercised more, a cancer charity said.

Moderate exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming at a leisurely pace or gardening can all help reduce the risk of cancer.

Around 5,500 cases of breast cancer could be prevented if women were physically active for at least 45 minutes a day, experts from the World Cancer Research Fund said.

Bowel cancer cases could also be reduced by around 4,600 cases a year if we exercised for 30 minutes a day.

Moderate exercise is any type of physical activity which makes the heart beat faster and makes you breathe more deeply.

If you can't spare 30 minutes a day going for a brisk walk, shorter bouts of activity work just as well. Two 15 minute brisk walks to the train station and back also count towards your 30 minutes a day as it’s the total time that’s important.

People who are regularly active are less likely to be overweight, an important risk factor for cancer. The WCRF recommends being physically active for at least half an hour every day.

The charity also says exercise reduces a women's risk of endometrial cancer, a type of womb cancer.

Dr Rachel Thompson, deputy head of science for WCRF, said: "There is now very strong evidence that being physically active is important for cancer prevention. Even relatively modest increases in activity levels could prevent thousands of cancer cases in the UK every year.

"These figures also show you do not have to go to the gym every day to benefit. You can reduce your cancer risk just by making small changes and this is highlighted by the fact that so many cancer cases could be prevented through something as simple as brisk walking.

"By taking up walking as a hobby or even walking to the shops instead of taking the bus or car, people can make a real difference to their health."

This article was published on Tue 31 August 2010

Image © edbockstock -

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