Physical Activity Associated With Fewer Cancers

Jenks, S. (2016) JNCI: Jnl of National Cancer Institute. Volume 108, Issue 8

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Even moderate leisure-time physical activity may protect against 13 cancers, according to a massive observational study that appeared May 16 in JAMA Internal Medicine (doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1548).

But which type of exercise brings the most benefit is not yet clear, researchers say, nor is exercise alone likely to account for its association with a lower cancer risk in colon, breast, and endometrial cancers, among others.

“Physical activity is not a stand-alone, magic bullet,” said William McCarthy, Ph.D., adjunct professor in the department of health services in the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. “The biggest bang [in risk reduction] comes when exercise is coupled with a Mediterranean-style diet and not smoking.”

Still, McCarthy said, the recent joint study by researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society highlights exercise’s importance to cancer risk and overall health, despite what he described as years of skepticism in the scientific community. “It’s a shot in the arm for those of us doing exercise studies for years,” he said.

Researchers at both organizations analyzed pooled data for the self-reported leisure-time physical activities of 1.44 million people in 12 U.S. and European studies conducted between 1982 and 2004. Analyzing data from those combined studies gave investigators greater statistical power than a single study.

Read the original article abstract here

Read the commentary here

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