Exercise Lowers Risk of Lung Cancer by 20%

Exercise Reduces Risk of Any Cancer including Lung Cancer

Anyone who has COPD due to cigarette smoking has an increased risk for lung cancer. However, there is good news from a recent report from the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Steven Moore, a cancer epidemiologist, analyzed 12 studies that involved 1.4 million people who reported on their physical activity levels over a period of 11 years. Dr. Moore matched these peoples’ exercise records with whether they developed 26 different types of cancer.
Woman exercising on treadmill

Woman exercising on treadmill

Overall, people who exercise more saw a 7% lower risk of developing any type of cancer than people who exercised less. But the reduced risk was especially striking for 13 types of cancers. People who were more active had on average a 20% lower risk of cancers of the esophagus, lung, kidney, stomach, endometrium and others compared with people who were less active.   The relationship between physical activity and lower cancer risk remained after adjusting for body weight (body mass index or BMI), diet, and whether or not people smoked.
Physical Activity includes Water Aerobics

Seniors doing Water Aerobics

The reason for the benefits of exercise in lowering the risk of these cancers isn’t clear. It is possible that physical activity can shift insulin and inflammation to more beneficial levels that don’t promote cancer formation. The study was published online in JAMA Internal Medicine May 16, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1548  

Donald A. Mahler, M.D. is Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. He works as a pulmonary physician at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH, where he is Director of Respiratory Services.