US News recently reported Dr. Susan Lakoski’s, a professor of medicine at the University of Vermont, finding’s that middle aged men who exercise seem to be less likely to develop colon and lung cancer in later life.
14,000 men completed treadmill tests at midlife and then had their medical records reviewed at age 65 or older. Dr. Lakoski’s researchers found that the fitter men had roughly half the risk for colon and lung cancer compared with the inactive men. Also, those who exercised had about one-third lower chance of death from lung and colon cancer.
"Men who are physically fit are expected to have lower levels of [cancer-related] sex hormones, enhanced immunity and lower inflammation, these effects may act together to inhibit cancer as well as risk of dying from cancer or heart disease."
Importantly, fit men who developed prostate cancer in the current study had a lower risk of dying of cancer or cardiovascular disease," Lakoski said.
"This speaks to the importance of being fit in midlife to improve survival, even if a man ultimately develops lung, prostate or colorectal cancer."
The US News article continues with a detailed analysis of the study’s participants and analysis of their rates of other cancers. Alpa Patel an epidemiologist with the American Cancer Society summarizes it simply as
“What they found is consistent with what we know- that physical fitness is important in cancer prevention.
But what about middle aged women and the effect of exercise?
Patel expects that physical fitness would also have a protective effect for women, especially for breast cancer.
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