Individuals who practice high levels of physical activity have a lower risk of developing lung and colorectal cancer, as well as being more likely to survive if they do get sick, when compared to sedentary individuals. This study was conducted by a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA, and it was published in the journal “Cancer” in May 2019.
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The research involved a large sample of 49,143 cancer-free adults aged 40-70 and that underwent stress tests for an average of 7.7 years, from 1991 to 2009. This Henry Ford Exercise Texting cohort was treated at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit in Michigan, USA, and it was composed of 46% female, 64% Caucasian, 29% Black, and 1% Hispanic, 46-61 years, on average.
Participants performed physical tests classified into two categories: 1) the Corticotropin Releasing Factor (CRF), which indicates cardiorespiratory fitness; 2) the MET, the unit of measurement of physical exertion equivalent to the consumption of O2 at rest. The collected data was analyzed against outcomes of lung and colorectal cancer from a register of the National Death Index regarding cancer and all-cause mortality.
The data revealed that individuals who practiced high levels of physical exercise at the beginning of the survey had a significantly lower risk of developing lung or colorectal cancer than sedentary patients: 77% less for lung cancer and 61% less for colorectal cancer, respectively. In addition, individuals, who exercised but developed lung cancer, had a 44% lower risk of dying from the disease. Those who developed colorectal cancer and exercised had an 89% lower risk of dying from the disease.
Nevertheless, further studies with larger samples are needed. In fact, researchers state that further research is essential to confirm the validity of the results and to determine whether exercise can influence cancer risk and mortality.