Men who are physically healthy in middle age have a lower risk of developing and dying from particular cancers, new research indicates.
“Fitness is a huge predictor of [cancer] risk,” said Dr. Susan Lakoski, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Vermont, in Burlington. “You have to be appropriate to safeguard yourself against a cancer diagnosis in elderly age.”
Those who were fit were also less likely to die from prostate, lung or colorectal cancers.
She’s scheduled to present her research, supported by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, on June 2 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.
While other research have found physical activity protects against specific cancers, Lakoski said fewer research have looked in the value of fitness to call whether guys would develop or die from cancers.
For the study, Lakoski and her colleagues assessed more than 17,000 guys who had a single cardiovascular fitness evaluation as part of a preventative health checkup at the Cooper Clinic, in Dallas, when they were 50, on average.
The guys walked on a treadmill under a regimen of changing speed and incline.
Later on, the researchers examined Medicare claims data to identify the participants who’d grown three common cancers among U.S. men — lung, colorectal or prostate.
The average follow-up interval was 20 to 25 years. During that time, 2,332 men developed prostate cancer, 276 developed colorectal cancer and 277 developed lung cancer.
During the follow up, 769 men perished — 347 of cancer, 159 of heart disease and 263 of other causes.
The guys who were most fit on the treadmill test, in comparison to the least, had a 68 percent lower hazard of lung cancer and a 38 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer. Their prostate cancer risk did not decrease with increasing fitness, but the danger of death from it did.
Even a small improvement in fitness helped, the researchers found. For instance, a 50-year-old man who raised fitness so he could continue three more minutes on the treadmill, Lakoski said, could reduce cancer death risk by 14 percent as well as heart disease death risk by 23 percent.
Low fitness levels increased the danger of cancer and heart disease even in men who weren’t fat, the researchers found.
Additionally they took into account other variables that could increase risk, including age and smoking habits.
The good news, Lakoski said, is that, “You do not have to be highly appropriate to get protection.” The most protection against cancer as well as heart disease was found in moving out of the least healthy group.
And how unfit were those guys? The guys in the least fit group who were 40 to 49 when they took the test could walk on the treadmill less than 13.5 minutes. Those who were 50 to 59 lasted less than 11 minutes. Those 60 and older in the least fit group just lasted less than 7.5 minutes.
The findings make sense, said Colleen Doyle, director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society.
“While you can not tell just how much activity these guys were doing over time, it makes sense that the most fit would have better cancer-related outcomes — because they’re likely the most active.” While the newest research did not find a link between fitness levels and also a diagnosis of prostate cancer, a recent review of other published studies did show a modest reduction in that danger, Doyle said.
Lakoski can’t clarify the protective effects of fitness for sure, but can speculate. “We understand that fitness modulates several significant pathways additionally related to cancer risk,” she said. These comprise, among other nerve pathways, reducing inflammation and oxidative damage in the cells, she said.
Doyle agreed that many mechanisms are probably on the job. Activity can improve immune function, for instance, and help control weight, and that subsequently can decrease inflammation, she said.
To achieve cardiovascular fitness and reduce cancer risk, be reasonably effective 150 minutes per week or vigorously active for 75 minutes, or some mix, Doyle proposed.
Because this study is being presented at a health meeting, the data and conclusions ought to be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Lakoski found a link between fitness and cancer protection, not cause and effect. She also can not say whether the findings would apply to girls. She expects to study that next.