Active lifestyle could cut bowel cancer risk

2 March 2011

Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle could reduce a person's bowel cancer risk, it has been claimed.

According to a new study published in the British Journal of Cancer, people who stay active throughout their lives are three times less likely to develop polyps - growths in the bowel that have been associated with an increased incidence of bowel cancer.

Conducted by scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, US, the research showed that people who take regular exercise cut their chances of developing polyps by 16 per cent and also slashed the risk of developing large polyps by just less than a third.

However, Professor Kathleen Wolin, co-author of the research, said that the results of the new study were anything but certain.

"Exercise also reduces insulin levels and improves the body's response to hyperinsulinaemia, which again increases polyp risk," she said.

"The reality is that exercise is acting through more than one mechanism. The upside is there are so many benefits all over the body, it is hard to pinpoint."

Other research published in the journal shows that a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is associated with a short-term increase in risk of bowel cancer development.
 

1, Wolin, Kathleen et al. "Physical activity and risk of colon adenoma: a meta-analysis". British Journal of Cancer. February 2011.

2 Norgaard, M et al. "Irritable bowel syndrome and risk of colorectal cancer: a Danish nationwide cohort study". British Journal of Cancer. February 2011.


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