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More activity leads to less risk of multiple cancers
A large American analysis shows a strong link between physical activity and the risk of cancer. From 2.5 hours of moderate or 1.25 hours of intensive exercise a week, the risk of seven different types of cancer decreases. This corresponds to about 20 to 25 minutes of walking or cycling a day.
Researchers from the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed data from more than 750,000 adults on the link between cancer risk and exercise in 15 different types of cancer. It was shown that increased physical activity is associated with a lower risk of seven types of cancer. The results were recently published in the "Journal of Clinical Oncology".
Less risk of cancer from leisure activity
A bundled analysis of nine prospective studies with more than 750,000 participants concluded that the amount of physical activity in leisure time is associated with a lower risk of seven types of cancer. With some types of cancer, the more the person moved, the more the risk decreased.
What is the minimum amount of exercise you should aim for per week?
Based on the results, the American Cancer Society updated the recommendation for regular exercise. Accordingly, every adult should exercise moderately for 2.5 to five hours per week or strive for vigorous activity for 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week.
Movement measured by the metabolic equivalent
To compare the different activities, the researchers used the metabolic equivalent (MET). A MET corresponds to the turnover that a person consumes while sitting quietly. Moderate physical exertion, such as walking or relaxed cycling, consumes three to six METs per hour. With intensive movement such as jogging, over six METs per hour are calculated - that is more than six times the consumption that the body needs for sitting.
Movement protects against seven types of cancer
Those who produced 7.5 to 15 MET hours per week through physical activity are at significantly lower risk for seven out of 15 cancer types examined, according to the current study. The risk reduction continued to increase with increasing MET hours. The following cancer risks have been reduced:
- Colon cancer: Eight to 14 percent lower risk.
- Breast cancer: Six to ten percent lower risk.
- Uterine cancer: Ten to 18 percent risk reduction.
- Kidney cancer: Risk reduced by eleven to 17 percent.
- Myeloma: 14 to 19 percent lower risk.
- Liver cancer: 18 to 27 percent risk reduction.
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: Risk drops by eleven to 18 percent.
Improved cancer screening recommendations
"These results provide direct quantitative support for the level of activity recommended for cancer screening and also provide action-relevant information for ongoing and future cancer screening efforts," concludes Dr. Alpa Patel, one of the study authors.
Exercise not only protects against heart diseases
"The guidelines for physical activity are largely based on their effects on cardiovascular diseases and diabetes," emphasizes Patel. "These data clearly demonstrate that the recommendations for exercise are also important for cancer prevention," summarizes the cancer expert from the American Cancer Society. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Charles E. Matthews, Steven C. Moore, Hannah Arem, and others: Amount and Intensity of Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Lower Cancer Risk, Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2019, ascopubs.org
- American Cancer Society: Report Links Recommended Physical Activity Levels to Lower Risk of Seven Cancers (accessed: December 28, 2019), pressroom.cancer.org