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Exercise May Reduce Cancer Risk

A large scale study performed by researchers from Japan's National Cancer Center in Tokyo, recently found that adults who are physically active are less likely to develop a variety of cancers including colon, liver, pancreatic and stomach cancers.

The study published in the August 2008 edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology included 79,771 Japanese men and women aged 45-74. For five years each participant responded to questionnaires about their physical activity levels, lifestyle habits, and diets.

Between 1999 and 2004 the researchers identified 4,334 new cases of cancer among the participants. After accounting for outside factors like age, weight, smoking habits researchers found that the most active men were 13 percent less likely to develop cancer than the least active men. The most active woman were 16 percent less likely to develop cancer than the least active woman.

The relationship between lower cancer rates and physical activity was weaker among overweight participants.

Given that obesity is a risk factor for cancer, the decrease in risk observed in this study may be because exercise helps burn excess body fat and boosts the immune system, the body's main defense against cancer. Previous research has also shown that exercise may inhibit certain hormones which can increase the growth and spread of tumors.

You don't need to devote a lot of time - or exercise rigorously - to see positive health benefits. Small changes can go a long way. Walking for 30 minutes a day, stretching, playing with children or grandchildren can all have a significant impact on overall health.
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