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Does physical activity reduce my risk of cancer?

Dr. Kathleen Wolin, ScD
Preventive Medicine
Yes.  Physical activity is consistently shown in high quality studies from around the world to decrease cancer risk.  Colon and breast cancer risk in particular is decreased through regular physical activity.  This doesn't mean running marathons - as little as 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity (such as a brisk walk) decreases risk.  Physical activity is also part of a healthy weight management strategy and overweight and obesity increase cancer risk independent of physical activity. 
Kelly Traver
Internal Medicine

Physical activity reduces your risk of cancer. Men over 65 who exercise regularly have a 70 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer than their sedentary counterparts. Physically active men and women enjoy a 60 percent decrease in the risk of colon cancer. Regular exercise reduces a woman's risk of breast cancer by 50 percent. Exercise stimulates the production of immune cells that hunt down and destroy cancer cells. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise most days of the week to help prevent cancer.

Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight is one way a person can decrease their risk of cancer and aid in the prevention of chronic disease.
While cancer research has come a long way to help identify ways in which people can prevent certain types of cancer, cancer researchers are still looking for new, effective cancer prevention strategies. Obesity, or being overweight has been shown to increase cancer risk. Cancer researchers at Penn Medicine are testing to see if women who are at higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer during their lifetimes may be able to reduce their risk with exercise.
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.