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Physical activity may lower risk of some cancers

Physical activity may lower risk of some cancers

'Being physically active during leisure time may lower a person’s risk of certain cancers, according to a new study.

A high level of physical activity was associated with a 20% lower risk of myeloid leukemia, a 17% lower risk of myeloma, a 9% lower risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and a 7% lower risk of cancer in general.

On the other hand, a high level of physical activity was also associated with a higher risk of malignant melanoma and prostate cancer.

Steven C. Moore, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and his colleagues reported these findings in JAMA Internal Medicine. (Abstract: )

The researchers pooled data from 12 US and European study cohorts with self-reported physical activity (1987-2004). And they analyzed associations between physical activity and 26 types of cancer.

The study included 1.4 million participants, and 186,932 cancers were identified during a median of 11 years of follow-up.'

Overview from Hematology Times (free registration)

There was a strong inverse associations (a 20% or greater reduction in risk) for 7 cancer types and moderate inverse associations (a 10% to 20% reduction in risk) between the highest level of activity and 6 cancers and '...there were suggestive inverse associations between the highest level of activity and 3 cancers:

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (HR=0.91 [95% CI, 0.83-1.00])'

CLL is one of the more common Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas.


Photo: Wind surfer becoming airborne - I was on the dry side of the camera lens

5 Replies

Interesting, but not really surprising.

I guess the increased risk of malignant melanoma is down to the 'activities' being outdoors in many cases, with increased exposure to sunlight. Certainly, since getting a (presumably CLL-related) skin cancer, I have always been very careful to put on the sun screen before heading off for a walk or a cycle. In general, though, physical activity can only do us good - not only in relation to other cancers, but also the many other conditions which can result from life as a couch potato (heart problems, diabetes etc.).

So - don't be put off your walks/bike rides/ runs/whatever!


not all melanomas are caused by the sun. I had an amelanotic melanoma --it was on my side in a place that had no sun exposure.


Really? I didn't know that - but I still think my point about active people having a higher risk of melanoma because they spend more time outdoors is very likely correct.

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I find it encouraging that there are explorations into causes. We really need to understand the whole picture.

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Hi Neil,

Just started swimming laps in an olympic size pool and I feel better already. I do it for about an hour a day. I'm careful not to "swallow" any water and keep any scrapes I may have covered but so far there has been only benefit from adding this exercise. (Sleeping better and even dropped a few pounds.) Life can be good even with CLL! Since this disease tends to make you want to stay on the couch it is good to know that not doing so could reap some rewards.



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