Physical activity reduces the risk of getting cancer

  • A study of more than 1 million Swedish men shows that youthful fitness reduces risk of various types of cancer.
  • The results are significant: the group with greater physical fitness shows risk reductions between 19% and 42% for several types of cancer.
  • Prevention always proves central: youth fitness is linked to lower risk of 9 types of cancers.


Let’s face it: we, too, have gotten tired of repeating how physical activity is good for our health, but when scientific studies that certify it are published, we can’t not talk about it. So: let’s talk about it.

In this case we are talking about reducing the risk of developing certain types of cancer, among others the most deadly, if you have done physical activity at a young age.

The research

Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the study analyzed a very large number of Swedish male individuals over a long period of time. Specifically, we are talking about more than one million men, followed in a medical screening that began on conscripts in the draft in 1968, until 2005. For some of them, follow-up lasted up to 33 years and made it possible to isolate and analyze those (84,117 in detail) who developed localized cancer during that period.

The total number was then divided into 3 groups according to fitness level at the time the study began, assessed using an exercise bike whose resistance was progressively increased.

The results

The group of those with higher fitness levels had 19 percent fewer cases of brain or neck cancer over the years while the most notable result of lower risk exposure was lung cancer, which was found to be 42 percent less likely, again in the same group.

And the comforting results also apply to other cancers, such as kidney, stomach and colon (-20%) and even -40% for liver, bile ducts, esophagus and gallbladder.

The conclusions drawn by the research team are as follows:

This study shows that greater physical fitness in healthy young men is associated with a lower risk of developing 9 of the 18 specific cancers examined, with the most clinically relevant risk rates in the gastrointestinal tract. These findings could be used in public health policies, further strengthening the incentive to promote interventions to increase cardiorespiratory well-being in young people.

Because the best cure is always prevention, starting when you are young.


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