Be more physically active. Scientists now report that can lower the risk of being diagnosed with any of 13 cancers. Nothing else you can do will have that big of an effect!
Compared to people who reported doing the least moderate-to-vigorous activity during their leisure time, those who did the most had about a:
- 20 to 26 percent lower risk of liver, kidney, stomach, lung (in smokers and ex-smokers), or uterine cancer and myeloid leukemia
- 10 to 15 percent lower risk of myeloma, colon, head and neck, rectal, bladder, or breast cancer.
- 42 percent lower risk of esophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma).
The impact on other cancers.
For 13 other cancers, like thyroid, pancreatic, brain, and ovarian, physical activity was not linked to a lower risk.
On the other hand, being more active was associated with a 27 percent higher risk of malignant melanoma (probably because of sun exposure) and a 5 percent higher risk of local (but not advanced) prostate cancer. Men who are more active are also more likely to get screened for prostate cancer, which could account for their slightly greater risk of being diagnosed with this cancer.
Moderate-to-vigorous activity can be brisk walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, dancing, or similar exertions.
And if you know someone with type 2 diabetes.
Tell them it’s worth getting up every half hour to do a little bit of exercise. Brief bouts of walking or simple strength exercises can lower their blood sugar and insulin levels.
Scientists in Australia assigned 24 sedentary overweight or obese adults with diabetes to either spend a day sitting for 8 hours or to break up that sitting for 3 minutes every half hour with a walk or with strength exercises. The strength exercises were half-squats, calf raises, gluteal contractions, and knee raises.
On the days the participants did either walking or strength exercises, they had lower blood sugar, insulin, and C-peptide (a measure of insulin secretion).
Sources: JAMA Intern. Med. 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1548; Diabetes Care 39: 964, 2016.
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