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Cancer can occur just about anywhere in the body, but certain settings are more conducive to the formation of tumours. Fortunately, exercise has a wide-reaching impact on our health, which may extend to the prevention of certain diseases. According to a recent study, strength training may significantly reduce the risk of dying from certain chronic diseases, including cancer.
It’s long been known that physical fitness is important for staving off cancer because it helps keep a healthy weight.
Several other plausible scientific explanations exist, however.
Physical activity is associated with low levels of oestrogen and insulin levels for example, which may lower the risk of some types of cancer.
In fact, early research by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute linked exercise with a lower risk of 13 specific types of cancer.
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It determined that leisure physical activity was associated with a ‘significantly’ decreased risk of several cancers including colon, breast and endometrial cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommended adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, to lower their risk.
It recently emerged, in a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, that strength training may also help protect the body from adverse outcomes.
The findings of the research specifically showed that strength training could reduce the risk of death from all causes, including cancer.
“It’s the latest of many studies to show a connection between strength training and good health,” notes Harvard Health.
“Strength training is well known for creating stronger muscles and bones, and the benefits don’t stop there.
“[The review] found that strength training is associated with a 10 percent to 17 percent lower risk of premature death from all causes, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.”
Strength training has historically been recognised for its ability to help survivors cope with the side effects of cancer and its treatment.
But there is evidence suggesting it may also help ward off the disease.
In one report, published in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, it was suggested that muscle-strengthening activities may reduce the risk of cancer by 28 percent.
In their opening statement, the researchers wrote: “Strong evidence indicates that aerobic activity is associated with lower risk of at least seven different types of cancer.”
The link between cancer and strength training on the other hand, is virtually unstudied in comparison.
The scientists continued: “We found that muscle-strengthening activity was associated with a 13 percent total cancer mortality.
” […] Joint muscle-strengthening activity and aerobic moderate to vigorous physical activities with a 28 percent lower risk.
“As compared with aerobic training, muscle-strengthening activities stimulate greater development of lean muscle mass, which helps maintain glucose homeostasis and could in turn lead to a lower cancer risk.”
Regardless of the type of exercise, physical activity is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, and should therefore be undertaken regularly.