Higher Fitness Linked to Lower Risk, Better Outcomes for Some Cancers

Several studies have linked physical activity to a lower risk of some cancers. A study released this year in the journal Cancer looked at the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) (which measures the capacity of the heart, lungs and blood to transport oxygen to the working muscles as well as the utilization of oxygen by the muscles during exercise) and lung and colorectal cancer outcomes.

As part of the study, the researchers analyzed data on over 49,000 patients who had taken clinician-referenced exercise stress testing from 1991 through 2009.

According to the results, people in the highest fitness category had a 77% decreased risk of lung cancer, and 61% decreased risk of colorectal cancer compared to less active peers. Those diagnosed with lung or colorectal cancer, people with the highest fitness level had a 44% lower risk of dying from lung and 89% lower risk of dying from colorectal cancer compared to less active patients. 

Marshall C et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness and incident lung and colorectal cancer in men and women: Results from the Henry Ford Exercise Testing (FIT) cohort. Cancer. 2019 Aug 1;125(15):2594-2601. 

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