Men who maintain high levels of fitness into their late 40s are less likely to get lung and colorectal cancer than unfit men.
According to a new study in Jama Oncology, high fitness levels of these men also appear to increase their chances of surviving cancer, if they are in fact diagnosed with it later on in life. it doesn’t have to be drastic – according to researches at the University of Vermont, even small improvements in fitness levels can help reduce cancer risk, so it’s never too late to start.
Looking at the link between fitness and cancer risk is relatively new, and important to consider. Many people don’t realize that fitness levels reached and maintained in earlier life can have an impact years down the road.
Many already know that a healthy, well-rounded diet is important in reducing the risk of cancer, and other diseases. However, according to Dr. Susan Lakoski, it would be much more beneficial to stress the importance of improving fitness levels to reduce cancer risks. One way to improve these levels is a personalized plan, which, according to Dr. Lakoski, should start with a measurement of cardio-respiratory fitness, and important indicator of health and fitness.
The study used cardio-respiratory fitness to determine fitness levels in 14,000 men between the ages of 46 and 50. Cardio-respiratory fitness was tested by utilizing a treadmill test which involved running to the point of exhaustion.
After the initial testing, the men were regularly tested over an average period of six and a half years, between 1971 and 2009. In the twenty years between 1971 and 1999, over 1,300 of the men had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, 200 had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and 181 with colorectal cancer.
In the men with higher levels of fitness, men had reduced their risk of lung cancer by 55%, and risk of colorectal cancer by 44%, however they did not reduce their risk of prostate cancer, which researchers could not explain. They were compared against men classified as having low levels of fitness; those who took more than 12 minutes to complete a mile on the treadmill.
According to Dr. Lakoski, it’s very important to think about this relationship between fitness and cancer, way before you develop cancer. It works as a preventative maintenance in reducing the risk of developing the cancers mentioned, not as a direct treatment. This is an addition to the countless other benefits of regular exercise and high fitness levels.
So, for many reasons, especially reducing the risk of certain cancers, it’s very important to achieve and maintain a level of fitness that would fall above the “low” category. This starts with a healthy, balanced diet, and a personalized exercise plan. Maintaining your fitness now, before it’s too late, can pay off greatly years down the road.