Active Life May Cut Colon Cancer Risk

Report: Colon Cancer 24% Less Common Among the Most Physically Active People

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 13, 2009 -- People who are physically active are less likely to develop colon cancer, a new research review confirms.

"This is a robust association and gives all the more evidence that physical activity is truly protective against colon cancer," researcher Kathleen Wolin, ScD, says in a news release.

The review, published online in the British Journal of Cancer, pools physical activity and colon cancer data from 52 published studies.

The most physically active participants were 24% less likely than the least active participants to have colon cancer. That pattern held for men and women, regardless of whether they got their activity on the job or in their spare time.

More studies are needed to figure out the amount and intensity of physical activity needed to lower colon cancer risk.

Also, Wolin's study doesn't prove that physical activity alone prevents colon cancer.

Physically active people may have other advantages that lower their colon cancer risk. And colon cancer can still strike active people; many factors affect cancer risk.

Still, being physically active has many benefits, and it's a cornerstone of healthy living.

"There is an ever-growing body of evidence that the behavior choices we make affect our cancer risk. Physical activity is at the top of the list of ways that you can reduce your risk of colon cancer," say Wolin, who works in St. Louis at the Siteman Cancer Center at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine.

SOURCES: Wolin, K. British Journal of Cancer, Feb. 10, 2009; advance online edition. News release, Washington University School of Medicine.

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