For most of us, the last thing we’d want to hear from our doctor concerns a diagnosis of cancer. Turns out that a relatively simple way to decrease your risk of said diagnosis is exercise!

Studies on breast and prostate cancer, which are among the most common types of cancers, show that regular physical activity reduces risk of prostate cancer by 10-30 % and the risk of breast cancer by 16-39 %. Though similar correlations have been seen for various types of cancer, it is still unclear exactly why exercise is preventative (and therapeutic).

A recent study on running mice suggests that the anti-cancer effect may be attributed to the way the immune response is activated when exercising, leading to targeted killing of cancer cells. The mice in the aforementioned study ran an impressive 4.1-6.8 km per mouse per day. In line with this, patient data shows that vigorous exercise seems more beneficial than light/moderate exercise. Additionally, the younger you are when you start exercising the better, but it really never is too late.

A recent review estimates that among breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer patients, a 37 % reduction in cancer mortality is seen when comparing the most and least active patients. For patients diagnosed with cancer, exercise improved survival and decreased disease recurrence.

If this news makes you super pumped to start a healthy exercising lifestyle, remember to consult your physician before making any drastic changes in your lifestyle.

1. Goncalves et al. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2014. 11(2):445-54. .
2. Shephard et al. Sports Medicine. 2016. DOI: 10.1007/s40279-016-0648-0. .
3. Friedenreich et al. Clinical Cancer Research. 2016. 22(19):4766-4775. .
4.Pedersen et al. Cell Metabolism. 2016. 23(3):554-62. .

Content provided by team EBT member Sarah Warsi, BSc, MSc, medical student and PhD student.

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