Exercise Reduces Colon Cancer Risk By Up To 44 Percent

Man on bikeJust one hour of walking a week could be enough exercise to reduce a persons colon cancer risk by almost a third according to a recent American study published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine followed over 79,000 women between the ages of 40 and 65 for a period of 16 years. 547 women developed colon cancer over the study period. The study found that between 1 and 2 hours of walking a week was enough to reduce colon cancer risk by as much as 31 percent compared to those who exercised for less than an hour a week.

Longer periods of walking or more strenuous activities such as jogging or playing a sport lead to an even greater reduction in colon cancer risk. Women who participated in moderate and/or vigorous activities for at least four hours a week had a 44 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer compared to the inactive group.

“Our findings suggest that participation in lower intensity activities may be sufficient to reduce risk though more vigorous activity provides comparable or perhaps additional risk reduction,” according to head researcher Katherine Y. Wolin.

These findings come on the back of other studies that have shown light to moderate exercise can cut the risk of developing other cancers such as breast and prostate cancer. A 2006 study that appeared in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found a similar reduction in colon cancer risk in men who exercised for an average of 250 minutes a week or greater.

Colon cancer is one of the commonest forms of cancer and one of the most deadly, especially in the absence of an early diagnosis.

Physical exercise rates have steadily been declining in the United States over the last century. According to the CDC, less than half of adult Americans meet current guidelines for aerobic physical activity. These are: at least 2 and a half hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity (e.g. brisk walking, mowing lawns), or 1 and a half hours of vigorous intensity aerobic activity (e.g. jogging, running, or swimming) every week.