New research by Swedish scientists may surprise you. Because although it is clear from them that physical activity promotes health and minimizes the risk of many diseases, it also increases the likelihood of developing some cancers.
More than a million people, Swedish conscripts between the ages of 16 and 25, took part in a study recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. They were observed for over 35 years between 1968 and 2005. Men’s physical activity and health were analyzed.
Physical activity and cancer risk
Experts found that physical activity was associated with higher cardiorespiratory fitness, and thus a lower risk of lung, liver and oesophageal cancer. There was also a decrease in the likelihood of developing cancers in the head and neck, stomach, intestines, pancreas and kidneys. However, the opposite trend was also observed – higher fitness of men was associated with a greater risk of prostate and skin cancer. However, it is not known what factors underlie these relationships. According to Dr. Aron Onerup from the University of Gothenburg, the lead author of the study, prostate or skin cancer detected in physically active men did not lead to death. It can therefore be presumed that exercise remains a protective factor against serious diseases.
The results obtained by Swedish scientists are convincing. They are another proof that it is worth promoting physical activity among young people. Mark Hamer, professor, draws attention to one very important issue regarding the conducted research. “Such a long follow-up period almost excludes the possibility of reverse causality (existing disease resulting in poor performance and premature death). This is the advantage of the Swedish study over other studies on the relationship between exercise and health” – emphasizes the expert.
What physical activity affects the development of cancer?
Not every physical activity – as Aron Onerup points out – has an impact on the development of cancer. Aerobic exercise is more effective than resistance training in this regard. So what is worth doing? Mainly running, swimming and cycling. Reducing the risk of cancer is not the only “profit” that comes with playing sports. A daily “dose” of moderate-intensity exercise prevents cardiovascular diseases as well as heart failure and has a positive effect on the psyche. It increases the level of endorphins, i.e. happiness hormones for feeling satisfied, reducing stress and alleviating pain.
Researchers recommend that you exercise at least 150 minutes a week. It’s not about running marathons or going to the gym regularly. Every activity is important and can have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the body (a brisk walk, a bicycle ride in the company of friends or doing housework). It’s never too late to improve your fitness.