Yes, it appears that cardiovascular fitness (at least among middle-aged men, according to a recent study) does reduce the risk of getting (or dying from) cancer. A 20 year prospective study called the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study looked at the association of baseline fitness levels – calculated during a specialized preventative checkup visit – and the risk for prostate, lung, and colorectal cancer. The analysis included 17.049 men with an average age of 50 years.
Results: At a median follow-up of 20 years, and after adjusting for smoking history, body mass index, and other factors, the most fit men had a 68% lower risk for lung cancer, and a 38% risk for colorectal cancer compared to the least fit. The risk of dying was higher for the least fit, too. Men who were not obese but still had a low fitness level were still at an increased risk of cancer and heart disease.
My take: We have long known of the link between physical fitness and hcardiovascular disease. Now we have one of the first studies exploring fitness as a marker for future cancer risk and outcomes. Fitness is one more measurement to assessing cancer risk. This study reminds us to exercise. I ask my patients to aim for a minimum of 150 minutes weekly of a brisk walk, or its equivalent. Some do 30 minutes, 5 times per week, while others get it all done in a day or two. Going forward, we need to look at other cancers and among women. In summary, you may be able to reduce your cancer risk with relatively small lifestyle changes.
The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.
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