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Just 30 Minutes Today May Decrease Your Risk of 13 Cancers

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Exercising isn’t just a good way to lose weight. Taking the time to meet the recommended physical activity levels on a daily basis could reduce your risk of 13 different types of cancer.


Excess weight is a known risk factor for several types of cancer, but a new study indicates that even when weight loss is not a factor, being diligent about going to the gym can still reduce your risk of 13 types of cancer – including 3 out of the top 4 leading cancers of men and women worldwide. The research, conducted by Dr. Steven C Moore PhD MPH of the National Cancer Institute, was published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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The statistics on regular physical activity in the United States are bleak. Only about 20 percent of Americans (23 percent of men and 18 percent of women) engage in recommended levels of regular physical activity and about 64 percent never do any physical activity.

However, making the effort could reduce the risk of developing the following types of cancer:

• Esophageal - 42% lower risk
• Liver -27%
• Lung - 26%
• Kidney - 23%
• Gastric (stomach) - 22%
• Endometrial – 21%
• Myeloid Leukemia – 20%
• Myeloma – 17%
• Colon – 16%
• Head and Neck – 15%
• Rectal – 13%
• Bladder – 13%
• Breast – 10%

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Overall, a higher level of physical activity was associated with a 7% lower risk of total cancer.

Aerobic activity – sometimes called “cardio” – is any type of exercise that gets your body moving faster than it is at rest. Intensity is how hard your body is working during the activity. “Moderate Intensity Aerobic Activity” means that you are working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat. But you should still be able to carry on a conversation.

Activities include walking fast, doing water aerobics, riding a bike, playing tennis with a partner, or even using a push mower to cut your grass.

If you’ve never exercised before, start off slow. Take a 10 minute walk around the block or play a game of tag with the kids. Build up to 30 minutes over time. Once you are there, you can then build up intensity if you’d like – for example, jog instead of walk.

Remember also that you need to build in at least two days a week to work on muscle strength. These activities should work all of the major muscle groups of the body, including legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms. Examples include lifting weights, working with resistance bands, body weight exercises (sit ups, push ups, heavy gardening and yoga.

Journal References:
1. Steven C. Moore, et al. Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2016; DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1548
2. Lauren E. McCullough, Kathleen M. McClain, Marilie D. Gammon. The Promise of Leisure-Time Physical Activity to Reduce Risk of Cancer Development. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2016; DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1521

Photo Credit:
By Brandon.wiggins - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16023931