50+ health * Healthy living

Regular exercise regime linked to lower colon cancer risk

Regular exercise regime linked to lower colon cancer risk Can even be beneficial after diagnosis

A new study has for the first time found a direct link between physical activity and lowered risk of colon cancer. People who exercise consistently over their adult life have reduced incidence of the disease and a lower chance of dying from it if they do contract it.

Researchers at Washington University reviewed data on over 150,000 men and women from the American Cancer Society Prevention Study II - a large scale study covering more than 25 years.

They looked at levels of physical activity between 1982 and 1997, and linked those activity levels both to the number of colon cancer diagnoses between 1998 and 2005, and to the number of colon cancer deaths that occurred between 1998 and 2006.

This found that those who exercised consistently for at least 10 years had the lowest risk of colon cancer death, as explained by study author Kathleen Y. Wolin: "People who were consistently active over the course of their adulthood had a lower risk of death from colon cancer than those who were sedentary" she said.

The benefits of regular exercise include not just preventing colon cancer and death from the disease, but also reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and other cancers.

Dr Wolin also pointed out that it was not necessary to spend hours in the gym to see a positive effect - "You go for a 30-minute walk every day, and you're going to reduce your risk of a number of diseases. And in addition, our research has also shown that you feel better, physically and mentally, so you're able to function better" she explained.

The study also found that even after a diagnosis of colon cancer exercise could still be of benefit.

"There is evidence that being physically active can reduce the risk of recurrence and death following a cancer diagnosis," Dr Wolin said.

"So even those who haven't been physically active can begin exercising after their diagnosis and see some real benefits as well."

This article was published on Fri 31 December 2010

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