Exercise's role in reducing various health risks is well documented, but a recent study claims that regular physical activity can reduce one's risk of developing lung or bowel cancer by more than 60 percent.
"Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Incident Lung and Colorectal Cancer in Men and Women," recently published via the Wiley Online Library, studied 43,143 Americans who participated in exercise stress tests over an 18-year period. The subjects ranged from age 40 to age 70 (with a median age of 54) and were generally diverse—46 percent female, 54 percent male, 64 percent white, 29 percent African-American and 1 percent Latino.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that those with the highest fitness levels reduced their likelihood of developing lung cancer by as much as 73 percent. Similarly, the most-active subjects also reduced their likelihood of developing colorectal cancer by as much as 68 percent.
The study states: "In what to the best of our knowledge is the largest study of its kind to date and the first to involve women and a large percentage of non-white patients, we observed that a higher level of [cardiorespiratory fitness] is independently associated with a decreased risk of lung and colorectal cancer and a lower risk of death after the diagnosis of lung and colorectal cancer in men and women compared with those with low [cardiorespiratory fitness]."
In the study, the researchers call for additional research to determine whether the associations found in their study are applicable to the general population.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 142,670 Americans will die from lung cancer in 2019, while 51,020 will die from colorectal cancer.