Cardiorespiratory Fitness: Link to Potential Reduction of Cancer Risk - London Health Company

Cardiorespiratory Fitness: Link to Potential Reduction of Cancer Risk

Maintaining good cardiorespiratory fitness during youth is linked to a potential 40% reduction in the risk of developing nine specific cancers later in life, especially in men, according to a lengthy study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

These nine cancers include those affecting the head, neck, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, bowel, kidney, and lung. Cardiorespiratory fitness, referring to one's ability to engage in sustained aerobic exercise like running, cycling, swimming, or climbing stairs, has been previously associated with lower risks of certain cancers. However, comprehensive, long-term studies across multiple cancer types have been limited.

The study drew upon linked Swedish registry data covering information on conscripts who began their military service between 1968 and 2005. Assessments conducted during this period included height, weight (BMI), blood pressure, muscular strength, and cardiorespiratory fitness.

Conscripts with lower cardiorespiratory fitness were more likely to be obese, have a history of alcohol and substance misuse, and have parents with lower educational attainment compared to those with higher fitness levels. The final analysis involved over 1 million men, 7% of whom developed cancer in at least one site during an average monitoring period of 33 years.

Compared to men with low fitness levels during conscription, higher cardiorespiratory fitness was associated with lower risks for specific cancers, including rectal, pancreatic, bowel, head and neck, kidney, stomach, esophagus, liver, and lung cancers. However, it was also linked to a 7% higher risk of prostate cancer and a 31% higher risk of skin cancer.

The study is observational, so definitive cause-and-effect conclusions cannot be drawn. Limitations include incomplete data on lifestyle factors such as diet, alcohol intake, and smoking, as well as the inability to track changes in cardiorespiratory fitness over time or gather genetic information. Nonetheless, the findings align with exercise guidelines during cancer treatment from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The researchers suggest that the study's results could inform public health policymaking by emphasizing the importance of interventions aimed at increasing cardiorespiratory fitness in youth.

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