Exercise, fitness earlier in life reduce cancer risk: Study

January 16, 2024 by No Comments

A new Swedish study confirms the positive impact of regular exercise on health over time. The study was conducted over 33 years and examined the relationship between cardiorespiratory health in young men and cancer occurrence in specific sites as they aged.

The report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that men who exercised regularly in their youth and maintained a high level of fitness are at a lower risk of developing nine of the 18 cancers.

Organs that showed a reduced risk of cancer include the head and neck, esophagus and stomach, pancreas, and liver, as well as rectum, kidney, colon, and colon.

Men with higher cardiorespiratory fitness had a 20%-40% lower risk of developing cancer in the gastrointestinal tract.

However, increased cardiorespiratory health was also linked to a higher incidence of malignant skin and prostate cancer. The former was due to increased prostate screening, while the latter was due to higher UV exposure during outdoor activities.

The study found that, despite the anomaly in the results, some cancers could be prevented by men who maintain a certain level of cardiorespiratory health during their younger years.

A 2008 report found that regular moderate or high-intensity physical activity can help reduce the risk for several cancers, including breast, colon, and endometrium.


Cancer and physical activity

But that’s not all: they can also lead to several obesity-related cancers. They can also cause cancers.

“It has been observed that individuals with obesity and excess weight have an increased risk of developing cancers. Some of these cancers are hormone-driven,” says Dr Dayananda Srinivasan. He is a surgical oncologist in Bangalore and the founder of Diya Cancer Care.

Dr Anil Kamath is a senior consultant at Apollo Hospitals in Bangalore. He says that obesity and reduced physical activity have a strong link with endometrial cancer.

The increase in body fat increases insulin levels and some pro-inflammatory enzymes, which can lead to cancer.

Exercise and Cancer Prevention

Physical activity includes office work, household chores, and recreational activities. You will need to be active in order to do these activities. Regular exercise can help prevent cancer.

“WHO suggests, [in reference to] oncology, that people exercise at least 2 hours per week,” says Dr Shivam Shingla, a medical oncologist consultant at SL Raheja Hospital – A Fortis Associates, Mumbai. Exercise can help reduce cancer risk by 50%, as lack of exercise directly correlates with colon, breast, and uterus cancer. You can do exercises that make you sweat, such as brisk walking and stair-climbing. Cancer can be treated early and, in most cases, cured.

Exercises in cancer treatment

Dr Kamath says the patient must be physically fit to “tolerate it better” before undergoing the treatment.

Dr Srinivasan says, “For a better outcome in treatment, lifestyle modifications that include physical activity are ideal.”

A review says that there may be side effects and symptoms even after successful treatment of cancer. Physical activity can help to reduce these symptoms. Physical activity can improve both physiological and mental health during and after cancer treatments.


  • Researchers from Sweden have found that being fit can help reduce the risk of cancers of the head and neck area, as well as those in the esophagus and stomach.
  • Regular exercise and increased physical activity can reduce the risk of some cancers related to obesity and hormones.
  • Physical activity is important for the fight against cancer. It’s crucial before, during, and after treatment.

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