Consistent exercise associated with lower risk of colon cancer death

Dec 31, 2010
Walking for 30 minutes each day can lower the risk of dying from colon cancer. Credit: Washington University School of Medicine

Consistent exercise is associated with a lower risk of dying from colon cancer, according to a new study led by researchers at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. The study is among the first to show that physical activity can make the disease less deadly.

The Washington University researchers worked with colleagues from the American Cancer Society and examined data from the American Cancer Society Prevention Study II (CPS II) to look at whether changes in influenced either the incidence of diagnosis or the risk of death from the disease.

The CPS II study included more than 150,000 men and women. To determine how exercise affected colon cancer, the researchers compared their levels of physical activity between 1982 and 1997, and linked those activity levels both to the number of colon cancer diagnoses between 1998 and 2005, and to the number of colon cancer deaths that occurred between 1998 and 2006. It turned out that those who exercised consistently for at least 10 years had the lowest risk of colon .

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It’s not news that exercise is good for your health, but scientists continue to learn more about just how beneficial regular exercise can be. Now a study led by researchers at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis has found that regular physical activity is associated with a lower risk of dying from colon cancer. Jim Dryden has more. Credit: Washington University BioMed Radio

"People who were consistently active over the course of their adulthood had a lower risk of death from colon cancer than those who were sedentary," says first author Kathleen Y. Wolin, ScD. "People often wonder around the start of a new year whether exercise really will help them stay healthy or whether it's already too late. It's never too late to start exercising, but it's also never too early to start being active. That's the message we hope people will take away from this study."

Wolin, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences, says the benefits of starting an exercise program include not just preventing colon cancer and death from the disease, but also reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and other cancers.

She says the greatest benefits seem to accrue in those who have exercised for the largest percentage of their lives. But it isn't necessary to run marathons or to work out for many hours every day.

"You get enormous 'bang for the buck,'" she says. "You go for a 30-minute walk every day, and you're going to reduce your risk of a number of diseases. And in addition, our research has also shown that you feel better, physically and mentally, so you're able to function better."

And physical activity even can be beneficial after a cancer diagnosis already has been made.

"There is evidence that being physically active can reduce the risk of recurrence and death following a ," Wolin says. "So even those who haven't been physically active can begin exercising after their diagnosis and see some real benefits as well."

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More information: Wolin KY, Patel AV, Campbell PT, Jacobs EJ, McCullough ML, Colditz GA, Gapstur SM. Change in physical activity and colon cancer incidence and mortality, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, vol. 19(12), pp. 3000-3004. Dec. 2010

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Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (7) Dec 31, 2010
If you walk for 30 minutes each day for 48 years, you will have spend an entire year walking.

Exericise is likely decreasing people's quality of life, because which would you rather have? The "year" when you were younger and could have done something else with the 30 minutes per day? Or 2 or 3 more years when you are 75 or 85 years old, likely in a nursing home?

How is living a few years more even worth it when all of the "extra" time, on average, will be in a state of near-paralysis in a nursing home?
Skeptic_Heretic
4.4 / 5 (9) Dec 31, 2010
Exericise is likely decreasing people's quality of life, because which would you rather have? The "year" when you were younger and could have done something else with the 30 minutes per day? Or 2 or 3 more years when you are 75 or 85 years old, likely in a nursing home?

I think I'd prefer to lose the year and not have to undergo a surgery that will leave me using a tube directly from my stomach into a colostomy bag to defecate.
mariacepeda12
4.8 / 5 (6) Dec 31, 2010
Exercise decreasing the quality of life? Wow that's a first. Might just be me but taking 30 minutes out of my day to take a walk seems completely doable to significantly decrease your chances of getting cancer or potentially dying from cancer..

This is the lazy american mentality that has led us to a country of overweight, and unhealthy individuals.
eMJayy
5 / 5 (4) Dec 31, 2010
@Quantum Conundrum - That year of exercise is exactly what will keep help you out of the hospital and the nursery home in the first place.

Exercise reduces the risk of having chronic medical conditions during old age. Chronic medical conditions decrease the quality of life of elderly persons (by increasing their total number of sick days versus well days and by exposing them to additional complications of their medical condition and their medication) while increasing their disability and longterm care requirements (forcing them into nursery homes at an earlier age). It also reduces their ability to withstand major surgery when it's required (eg. hip replacement surgery less likely in those with chronic heart disease because of higher risk of death during the operation), which inevitably increases their suffering and shortens their life. So how can you possibly conclude that exercise decreases quality of life?

kevinrtrs
3.3 / 5 (3) Jan 01, 2011
Somehow I suspect QC was being facetious.

I really enjoy the experience of having my resting heart rate drop. It's come down from the nominal 72bpm to 60 bpm. I'll aim for 55bpm just for the heck of it. Cycling is what it's all about. But the benefits are incredible - with all the supplementary work in the gym, I now can feel the improved stability when running to catch a train, not to mention the increased endurance when taking on an accelerating climb up a winding road.
Enjoy life!
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 06, 2011
How is living a few years more even worth it when all of the "extra" time, on average, will be in a state of near-paralysis in a nursing home?
Exercise also helps keep the brain functioning optimally. You should probably begin strenuous exercise immediately. Although it does not seem to have improved kevins cognition appreciably.

The body is a temple you know. It is gods gift and if you trash it through neglect and abuse he is not going to be very happy about it, no matter how hard you beg him for forgiveness. Even though in reality he does not exist. This is probably an extreme form of that placebo mechanism which works even when you know its phoney.
Skepticus
not rated yet Jan 07, 2011
I think QC's comment is a great help. It provokes others to contribute useful insights in an otherwise not a very exciting subject.
imho, the digestive system ages just like a household plumbing system. Wastes move ever more slowly with age as the peristalsis movements of the colon slowed and gunk accumulated. Polyps grows, further impedding quick elimination of toxic wastes. Polyps immersed too long in toxic wastes turn to cancerous tumors...time for the plumber and colostomy bag. Excercise helps the digested food move along quick smart with abdominal muscles contractions squeezing the intestines aiding the peristalsis action, keeping the whole plumbing working optimally. It also helps to reduce bloating and flatus too. When you are active, usually you are on your feet. Gas rises. This releases ingested air and gas given off in digesting process in the stomach, leading to less gas in the system.