Need another reason to hit the gym more often? It may help you stay cancer-free.
New research shows that people who exercise a lot enjoy a lower risk of 13 kinds of cancer than those who don’t work out much.
In general, the most active people had a 7-percent lower risk of developing any type of cancer, according to a giant study from the National Cancer Institute.
The results were published earlier last week in the online journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
While many previous studies have reported that physical activity reduces risks for colon, breast and endometrial cancers, this latest study stands out because of its size and broad range of cancers examined. Scientists pooled data on 1.4 million people 19 to 98 from the United States and Europe. Participants were followed over a median of 11 years.
“Health care professionals counseling inactive adults should promote physical activity as a component of a healthy lifestyle and cancer prevention,” Steven Moore, lead author of the study, said in a National Institutes of Health news release.
In their analysis of 12 different studies, the researchers examined surveys participants took reporting the amount of exercise they did during their leisure time. On average, the exercisers did a moderate amount of physical activity for an hour and a half a week.
Exercise had the greatest preventive impact on certain kinds of cancers, such as esophageal (42 percent reduced risk), liver (27 percent), and kidney (23 percent) cancers.
Conversely, the risk for skin cancer and prostate cancer went up among those who exercised the most.
Researchers suggest increased sun exposure due to exercising outside contributed to the higher risk of skin cancer. For prostate cancer, they say that perhaps the most physically active people get screened for prostate cancer more often than non-exercisers.