More Physical Activity Means Less Cancer Risk

Dec 28, 2008 by

More Physical Activity Means Less Cancer Risk

Yet another study has linked the level of physical activity in one’s life with one’s risk of getting cancer. Not unexpectedly, there is an inverse correlation. And this piece of research is said to be the first conducted on a non-Western population.

The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology and was carried out at the National Cancer Center and Public Health Center in Japan.

In all, about 80,000 people aged from 45 to 74 were surveyed, and the study team then calculated the subjects’ individual working metabolic rates based on the amount of time which they spent sleeping, sitting, standing, walking and exercising every day. This is a procedure more elaborate than most other similar studies, which usually just look at single variables, such as amount of non-active time or amount of time spent on physical activity.

“Our research looked at overall physical activity that people take part in daily, and not just exercise that people take part in for leisure or fitness,” said Manami Inoue, part of the study team.

Overall, highest metabolic rates translated to lowest risk of cancer, especially for colon, liver, pancreatic and stomach cancers. The positive effect was also more pronounced in women.

Thus far, previous research which had been carried out on Western populations had given an indication that about one-third of all cancer deaths can be prevented through diet and exercise. This estimate is roughly equal to the impact of smoking. And, whatever can reduce the risk of cancer also tends to lower cardiovascular disease risk.

But what is the significance or difference between Western and non-Western populations?

“There are a lot of physical differences between Asians and our Western counterparts. Asians are usually leaner, with a lower body mass index,” said Inoue.

“There has been a lot of research done in the past on the relationship between leisure and development of cancer in the West. However, our research is the first in Japan of its size and scope; we looked at overall exercise and labor, which is not only related to leisure,” he added.

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