To avoid cancer and death, stay fit

runners-635906_1280Yes of course it’s a no-brainer. But some of us need research to prove it. So here it is: Men with a high fitness level in midlife appear to be at lower risk for lung and colorectal cancer, but not prostate cancer, and that higher fitness level also may put them at lower risk of death if they are diagnosed with cancer when they’re older, according to a study published online by JAMA Oncology.

As we all know, the association between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been well-established, however, the value of CRF as a predictor of primary cancer hasn’t received the attention it deserved, until this study. The study included 13,949 men who had a baseline fitness exam where CRF was assessed in a treadmill test. Fitness levels were assessed between 1971 and 2009 and lung, prostate and colorectal cancers were assessed using Medicare data from 1999 to 2009. During an average 6.5 years of surveillance for the 13,949 men, 1,310 of them were diagnosed with prostate cancer, 200 with lung cancer and 181 men with colorectal cancer.

The authors found that high CRF in midlife was associated with a 55 percent lower risk of lung cancer and a 44 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer compared to men with low CRF. However, to reduce risk of prostate cancer, screenings and nutrition played a higher role. But what is most amazing, is that those found high in CRF in midlife were associated with a 32 percent lower risk for cancer death among men who developed lung, colorectal or prostate cancer at Medicare age compared with men with low CRF. Which means, even those who got the cancers, survival rates were higher. And, high CRF in midlife was also associated with a 68 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease death compared with low CRF among men who developed cancer.

Moral of the story? Go wear your running shoes if you don’t want to die of heart disease or cancer.

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