Okay, okay… I know I tend to talk about a few select subjects over and over again. But that’s because repetition works. As humans, we need to be reminded over and over again to do the right things for our health. (And in my defense, I had a patient in my office just the other day who said how much she appreciated it.)
So today’s topic will be a familiar one: Exercise. And how it can save your life.
A new study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at a pool of data from more than a million Europeans and Americans. And results showed that greater physical activity slashed the risk of developing half of the 26 different types of cancer the research team reviewed.
The list included esophageal cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, gastric cancer, endometrial cancer, myeloid leukemia, myeloma, colon cancer, head and neck cancer, rectal cancer, bladder cancer, and breast cancer. And among that group of 13 cancers, exercise reduced the risk anywhere from 10 to a whopping 42 percent.
How can you beat that?
Everyone wants to prevent cancer. We’ve dropped many of the bad habits that used to be commonplace decades ago in the quest to avoid this modern killer. It’s the reason we don’t smoke, don’t bake in the sun for hours on end, don’t drink heavily, etc.
Yet, physical activity levels are still dismally low. Despite the fact that regular exercise has been proven, time and again, to offer amazing anti-cancer results.
The thing we need to know now is why exercise is so effective against cancer. Maybe then, people will actually get on board. (And more importantly, maybe mainstream doctors will start “prescribing” physical activity before relying on risky pills.)
While researchers are still looking for concrete explanations for exercise’s benefits against cancer, there are a few pretty good theories. The first has to do with hormones. For example, research shows that cancer-promoting “estrogen dominance” is far less likely in physically active women.
Then you have insulin — which also plays a role in tumor growth. And research shows levels are markedly lower in people who exercise. (This is yet another reason to stick with a low-sugar, low-carb diet — whether you’re trying to avoid cancer or are facing an active diagnosis.)
Finally, there’s inflammation — a driving factor behind every chronic disease, including cancer. Study after study shows that exercise lowers inflammatory markers. And as you know by now, this is a vitally important aspect of health.
Of course, researchers are also looking at other, more specific ways exercise fights cancer.
This cracks open a whole new field of study called “exercise oncology” — which deals with physical activity not just as a mode of cancer prevention, but also as a treatment. It’s an exciting and very promising development in terms of cancer research. (So exciting, in fact, that I devoted an entire article to it in this month’s issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives. You don’t want to miss it — so if you haven’t already, subscribe today.)
So how much exercise do you need?
Well, the median activity level in this study added up to about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Of course, I know that can seem daunting if you’re not currently exercising at all. But don’t let that number scare you off. Start small. Do what you can. Even a walk around the block is better than nothing.
As I always say, even a little bit of physical activity goes a long way in protecting you from any number of chronic illnesses — including cancer.
But the bottom line is, physical activity is essential for warding off any disease.
So if you want to stack the odds in your favor, get up and get moving.