Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Does Exercise Prevent Colon Cancer?


Colorectal cancer has been one of the most extensively studied cancers in relation to physical activity, with more than 50 studies examining this association.

Many studies in the United States and around the world have consistently found that adults who increase their physical activity, either in intensity, duration, or frequency, can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent relative to those who are sedentary regardless of body mass index (BMI) with the greatest risk reduction seen among those who are most active.

The magnitude of the protective effect appears greatest with high-intensity activity, although the optimal levels and duration of exercise are still difficult to determine due to differences between studies, making comparisons difficult. It is estimated that 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day is needed to protect against colon cancer.

Physical activity most likely influences the development of colon cancer in multiple ways. Physical activity may protect against colon cancer and tumor development through its role in energy balance, hormone metabolism, insulin regulation, and by decreasing the time the colon is exposed to potential carcinogens. Physical activity has also been found to alter a number of inflammatory and immune factors, some of which may influence colon cancer risk.

Physical activity at work or during leisure time is linked to a lower risk of getting colon cancer. Both vigorous and moderate levels of physical activity appear to reduce this risk. Physical activity is also connected with a lower risk of breast cancer and possibly lung and endometrial cancer. Physical activity improves quality of life among cancer patients and survivors. Studies are beginning to explore the potential for physical activity to improve cancer survival. Studies have not yet determined if any specific types of physical activity, such as aerobic, strength, or flexibility training, have different effects on cancer outcomes.

In late 2008, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans that recommend at least one hour of physical activity every day for children and adolescents and 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 1.15 hours of vigorous activity for adults each week. This was a slight departure from former physical activity recommendations, which focused on a daily routine rather than a cumulative weekly total for adults. Previous recommendations suggested engaging in at least 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity for most (5 or more) days of the week.


Make a PACT for Life!® is a culmination of my two decades of experience working with people living with cancer. PACT is a program for all fitness levels to help rebalance, rebuild and revive. PACT focuses on a series of movements to put the body in optimal functional alignment and improve strength and balance

PACT hopes to provide an environment where all people touched by cancer may enhance their quality of life through physical activity programs that complement medical care and focus on the mind, body and spirit. PACT is designed to provide all people newly diagnosed to long-term survivors with tools to withstand the consequences of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.  My goal is to make this exercise-related approach a routine practice in cancer care.

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