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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Exercise 'keeps cancer away'
Man taking exercise
Taking regular exercise could ward off cancer
Regular exercise could both help people avoid developing cancer, or help them make a more successful recovery, say scientists.

Researchers at the University of Bristol suggest that physical activity could cut the risk of bowel cancer, and may help prevent breast, prostate, lung and endometrial cancer.

They also found evidence that exercise could help people who are already being treated for the disease, and are launching their own study into this.

Exercise is already acknowledged as beneficial to health, reducing the chance of heart disease and stroke.

The combined results of 15 studies on physical activity found that people taking this as part of their job or as a leisure pursuit could substantially cut their risk.

Regular exercise reduced the chance of developing bowel cancer by between 40% and 50%.

The effect on breast cancer was a 30% reduction in risk, with stronger effects in post-menopausal women.

There is already evidence that obesity can increase the chance of developing breast cancer.

Lung benefit

Six out of eleven studies on lung cancer and exercise found a protective effect - those taking general lifestyle into account before drawing any conclusion suggested that the risk could fall by as much as 40%.

Professor Ken Fox, from the department of exercise and health sciences at the University of Bristol, said: "Physical activity is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle and we have found a growing body of evidence that indicates its importance in keeping cancer at bay.

"The evidence of beneficial effects is the strongest for colon cancer."

He added: "To reduce their risk of cancer, people should aim to engage in physical activity of at least moderate intensity, for approximately 30 minutes on three or more days a week throughout their lifetime."

Depression lifter

However, a scan of 36 studies into exercise for people already diagnosed with cancer also concluded it was well worth the effort.

In particular, the quality of life of leukaemia, breast, bowel and prostate cancer patients was improved by exercise.

Researcher Clare Stevinson, also from the University of Bristol, said: "Cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy have varioua negative side-effects such as loss of physical function, fatigue, nausea, depression and anxiety.

"Exercise has been shown to enhance aerobic fitness and muscular strength as well as body composition, self-perceptions and mood and so could help improve a patient's quality of life."

See also:

07 Jun 99 | Medical notes
07 Nov 01 | Health
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