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Updated: January 4, 2012 15:15 IST

Exercise daily ‘to cut bowel cancer risk’

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The recent research found the most physically active have a lower risk of bowel cancer than the least active.
The Hindu The recent research found the most physically active have a lower risk of bowel cancer than the least active.

Want to stave off bowel cancer? Exercise daily, for a new study claims that regular workouts can cut the risk of developing the disease significantly.

An international team, led by University of Western Australia and the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, has found people who engage in vigorous physical activity may be protected against types of colorectal cancer.

For the study, researchers examined 870 participants who had bowel cancer and a control group of 996 who did not have the disease. Study participants were asked to answer questions about their recreational physical activity, lifestyle, diet, medication and occupation.

Team member Terry Boyle said the study confirms previous research that shows the most physically active have a lower risk of bowel cancer than the least active. “It also gives us some clues as to what types of activity are the most effective at reducing bowel cancer risk,” he said.

The study found people who performed regular vigorous physical activity over their lifetime had 40 per cent reduced risk of cancer of the distal (lower) colon and rectum.

“These results suggest that vigorous activity like jogging, cycling, swimming, tennis, hockey, netball and football may be the most effective physical activities to lower the risk of bowel cancer,” Boyle said.

Of the possible mechanisms linking physical activity and colon cancer, there is evidence to suggest that obesity and vitamin D may have a great effect on distal colon cancer than proximal colon cancer, ‘Cancer Causes Control’ journal said.

While the link between physical activity and colon cancers remains opaque, this study suggests that lifestyle factors are more strongly tied to distal colon cancer than proximal colon cancer. “This shows that it really is never too late to start being physically active,” Boyle said.

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