Having moderate and continued physical activity reduces the risk of 13 cancers, according to a US study released on Monday.
It is estimated that 51% of adults in the United States and 31% worldwide will not do any recommended exercise to maintain health, according to researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), whose study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine .
By regular physical activity is meant walking, running, swimming or cycling at a moderate to vigorous pace for 150 minutes per week.
Hundreds of previous studies looked at the relationship between physical activity and reduced risk of developing colon, breast and endometrial cancer , tissue lining the uterus, but the results were inconclusive for other types of tumors due to too small numbers of participants, the authors of the new study note.
The latter worked with data for 1.44 million people aged 19-98 in the US and Europe.
Participants were followed on average for 11 years, a period during which 187,000 new cases of cancer were diagnosed.
The new study not only confirmed the proven relationship between a sustained level of exercise and a lower risk of colorectal, breast and endometrial cancer, but also ten other types of tumors.
The researchers found a reduction in the risk of the following cancers: esophagus (-42%), liver (-27%), lung (-26%), kidney (-23%), stomach (-22%), endometrium %), blood (-20%), colon (-16%) and breast (-10%).
In most cases, the relationship between physical activity and reduced risk of cancer has been maintained regardless of the person’s weight and whether or not it is a smoker.
For all cancers, the risk reduction resulting from regular vigorous exercise was 7%.
In contrast, physical activity was linked to a 5% increase in the risk of prostate cancer and 27% of melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer, especially in regions with high sunshine in the United States.
“Our results show that the link between exercise and reduced risk of cancer can be generalized in different population groups, including overweight and obese people and former smokers,” said Steven Moore , a researcher at the National Cancer Institute and lead author of the study.