Does Exercise Reduce Cancer Risk?

Another Reason To Stop Using Your Exercise Bike As A Clothes Rack

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

does exercise reduce cancer riskOK guys; listen up. We need to have a heart to heart talk about exercise. Sometimes it seems as if exercise is the step child of a healthy lifestyle.

Taking supplements is easy, and most of us can manage a healthy diet – when we think of it…

…but exercise – who has time?  Does exercise reduce cancer risk?

The more we learn, the more it looks like we should really make the time to exercise on a regular basis.

Does Exercise Reduce Cancer Risk?

A study reported several years ago in the British Journal of Cancer (98: 1864-1869, 2008) showed that moderate intensity exercise significantly reduces cancer incidence and decreases cancer deaths in men.

This study followed 40,708 Swedish men, aged 45-79,from 1998 to 2004.

cancer preventionWhen men who walked or cycled an average of 30 minutes a day were compared to men who exercised very little, there was a 5% (non-significant) decrease in the incidence of new cancer and a 33% increase in 5-year survival after cancer diagnosis!

When they looked at men who walked or cycled an average of 60 minutes a day, the 5-year survival after cancer diagnosis was about the same as for the men who were exercising for 30 minutes a day, but there was a statistically significant 16% decrease in the incidence of new cancer diagnosis compared to men who exercised very little.

A 16% decrease in new cancer diagnosis and a 33% increase in 5-year cancer survival after a cancer diagnosis – now that’s pretty significant!

What Does This Mean For You and Me?

exerciseIf you are a man, this study shows that moderate intensity exercise has the potential to decrease both your chance of developing cancer and your survival if you do get cancer – and as little as 30 minutes of exercise a day can make a difference.

But the sad fact is that less than 50% of the men in this country exercise for 30 minutes even 5 days a week- and 15% are bona fide couch potatoes.

So it’s time to dust off that exercise cycle or lace up your walking shoes and get moving.

If you are a woman, don’t think you are off the hook. Other studies have shown that regular exercise is just as beneficial in reducing cancer risk and increasing cancer survival in women.

So, does exercise reduce cancer risk?  The evidence in this study seems to say “yes.”


The Bottom Line

A study of 40,708 Swedish men showed that:

  • As little as 30 minutes/day of moderate intensity exercise increases your 5-year survival rate after cancer diagnosis by 33%.
  • If you up that to 60 minutes/day of moderate intensity, you not only increase your 5-year survival rate, but you also decrease your risk of developing cancer in the first place by 16%

If you are a woman, don’t despair. Other studies have shown that exercise is equally effective at decreasing cancer risk and improving cancer survival in women.


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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