I recently reviewed a variety of current literature and scientific studies from accross the country. Physical activity has myriad health benefits. While plethora research exists related to exercise and the prevention of chronic illnesses, less research has been conducted regarding exercise and cancer prevention. Research in recent years is showing convincing evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of certain forms of cancer.
The risk of colorectal cancer has proven associations to diet, obesity and lack of exercise. The role of exercise has been studied more extensively with colon cancer than other forms of cancer. Studies have determined that adults who increase the intensity, duration, or frequency of physical activity can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent when compared to those with a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise benefits exist regardless of the BMI of the individual.
Emerging evidence shows that physical activity can reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. A lack of exercise is a risk factor for developing this disease. Research shows that physical activity reduces lung cancer risk by 20 to 30 percent for women and 20 to 50 percent for men.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Research shows that physically active women can reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by an average of 25 percent. Evidence suggests that activity sustained over the course of a lifetime or is performed regularly with a moderate to vigorous intensity level had the most substantial risk reduction. It has also been shown that exercise will reduce breast cancer risk in post-menopausal women, those of normal weight, and in women without a family history of the disease.
Physical activity in adulthood, even of moderate intensity, may be effective in lowering the risk of endometrial cancer, particularly among women at the highest risk for this disease. Several studies have illustrated that physical activity reduces the risk of developing endometrial cancer by 20 to 30 percent. The role of exercise in the prevention of ovarian cancer remains unclear. Research has been inconsistent and some studies show little correlation while others show a moderate correlation.
In conclusion, strong evidence exists regarding the role of physical fitness on cancer prevention. In the pursuit of a long, healthy life, cancer prevention plays a central role. Exercise has also been shown to aid in the recurrence of certain cancers, specifically of the breast. The United States has a growing population of over 12 million cancer survivors. Exercise can combat fatigue and improve the quality of life in these patients.