While there are many factors that play into your predisposition towards certain cancers – genetics, environment, and lifestyle factors all can heavily influence whether or not you develop some form of the disease – there have been many studies on the role that regular exercise can play in preventing specific forms of cancer. The results of these studies are often mixed, but it has become clear that there are certain types of cancer for which regular physical activity is a viable preventative measure that anyone can take.
Let’s have a look at what science can tell us about the relationship between exercise and cancer prevention.
1. Endometrial Cancer (Uterus)
Many studies have been done on the relationship between endometrial cancer development and regular exercise. About 20 recent studies have been dedicated to exploring the role that physical activity has on reducing endometrial cancer risk.
“The results suggest an inverse relationship between physical activity and endometrial cancer incidence,” say researchers at the National Cancer Institute.
“These studies suggest that women who are physically active have a 20 percent to 40 percent reduced risk of endometrial cancer, with the greatest reduction in risk among those with the highest levels of physical activity.”
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Researchers believe that the relationship is primarily due to how changes in body mass and metabolism levels can affect hormones such as oestrogen(1).
2. Colorectal Cancer
A recent paper published in the journal Recent Results In Cancer Research outlines the discoveries made in the past two decades of colorectal cancer research, including the discovery that diet and exercise can play a major role in preventing colorectal cancer.
“Physical inactivity and to a lesser extent, excess body weight, are consistent risk factors for colon cancer,” the author writes.
“Diet and nutritional factors are also clearly important.”(2)
Current research indicates that between lifestyle factors and regular screening, early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer is feasible in many cases.