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Exercise in Midlife May Reduce Cancer Risk in Later Years

A recent study suggests that having a high fitness level in midlife may lower the risk of developing lung and colorectal cancer - but not prostate cancer - later in life. Higher fitness levels were also found to be associated with a lower risk of death following a diagnosis of cancer.


Participants in the study included 13,949 men who took a baseline fitness exam to determine cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) at the onset of the study. Their fitness levels were assessed between 1971 and 2009. Incidence of lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers were determined via Medicare data from 1999 to 2009. All of the men were under surveillance for an average of 6.5 years.


During the study time period, 1,310 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, 200 with lung cancer, and 181 with colorectal cancer.


When the researchers examined the data, they found that high CRF at midlife was associated with a 55% lower risk of lung cancer and a 44% lower risk of colorectal cancer when compared to men with low CRF. They also found a 32% lower risk of dying from cancer amongst men with high CRF. Finally, having high CRF at midlife was associated with a 68% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease when compared with men with low CRF.


The researchers did not, however, note any association between CRF and a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.


Researchers from the University of Vermont conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on March 26, 2015, in JAMA Oncology.


Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise can reduce your risk of dying prematurely, help with blood sugar control, reduce body weight, improve heart health and improve respiratory health.

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