Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Fitness May Prevent Cancer Deaths

Results of a 25-year study found that men who were most in shape at the beginning of the study were less likely to die from cancer, while women who started the study overweight had a greater risk of dying from cancer.

The study, which included 2,585 women and 2,890 men, examined the relationship between fitness and obesity and the risk of dying from all types of cancer. Participants were followed from the 1970s to 1998.

A treadmill test was given at the beginning of the study to measure heart health and body mass index (BMI), a measure used to gauge obesity, was measured.

Among men, the fittest were about half as likely to die from cancer as the less fit men. Among women, fitness levels did not have a significant effect on cancer deaths, but a woman’s BMI at the start of the study did. Women with the highest BMIs were close to 50 percent more likely to die from cancer than women with lower BMIs.

It is thought that physical activity reduce cancer risk by influencing certain hormone and growth factor levels, decreasing body fat and possibly boosting the immune system.
Future studies may examine the relationship of fitness and obesity on certain types of cancers, such as breast cancer.

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