Men who cycle, jog or swim could cut risk of nine cancers, study finds

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Good news for triathletes!

Male joggers, swimmers and cyclists could be cutting their risk of nine cancers, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that men with good cardiorespiratory fitness are far less likely to go on to develop cancers of the head and neck, stomach, pancreas, liver, bowel, rectum, kidney, lung and oesophagus. Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to a person’s ability to do aerobic exercise, such as running, cycling and swimming for sustained periods, or even to climb stairs.

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The exercises have been found to have numerous health benefits. (Picture: Adobe Stock)The exercises have been found to have numerous health benefits. (Picture: Adobe Stock)
The exercises have been found to have numerous health benefits. (Picture: Adobe Stock) | Adobe Stock

The new study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, saw experts from Sweden track just over a million men for an average of 33 years. The men involved in the study were conscripted to military service in Sweden between 1968 and 2005.

At the start of their conscription the men underwent a battery of tests assessing a number of factors including their height, weight, blood pressure, muscle strength and cardiorespiratory fitness.

During the follow-up period, about 84,000 developed cancer.

Cancers reduced by cardiorespiratory fitness

Head and neck cancer

Throat cancer

Stomach cancer

Liver cancer

Bowel cancer

Kidney cancer

Lung cancer

Pancreatic cancer

“These results could be used in public health policymaking, further strengthening the incentive for promoting interventions aimed at increasing [cardiorespiratory fitness] in youth,” the authors wrote.

The researchers did find that higher cardiorespiratory fitness was linked to a slight (7 per cent) increased risk of prostate cancer and a 31 per cent increased risk of skin cancer.

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A previous study examining the same data set suggested the slight increase in risk for prostate cancer was not linked to a higher rate of aggressive prostate cancer or prostate cancer death, and could be attributable to increased screening.

The authors suggested a higher skin cancer rate could be explained due to “higher UV exposure”.

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