Reducing Cancer Risk by Increasing Exercise

Author: Callie Zobeck

As all know, there are many different forms of cancer out in this world, yet research is beginning to show how those at risk for cancer can have reduced risks simply by adding exercise to their daily regime. Cancer can develop at any point and any time in the body. Instead of having cells that grow and divide, cells keep dividing making them damaged in the process. This then causes the growth of tumors. Tumors can then either become malignant (invading other bodily tissues while spreading the cancer to other areas of the body), or they can be classified as benign (do not invade other bodily tissues and do not grow back as most malignant tumors do) (What Is Cancer?, 2015). The World Cancer Research Fund states how 12.3% of people have breast cancer (Global cancer statistics for the most common cancers, 2018). For breast cancer in 2018, the World Cancer Research Fund showed that there were over two million cases of breast cancer diagnoses. Research has begun to show how increasing exercise can now decrease these risks of cancerous tumors (Global cancer statistics for the most common cancers, 2018).

            Getting into the exercise aspect, there are many different forms of exercise. Endurance and aerobic exercise aids in increasing heart rate along with breathing rates (Exercise and Physical Fitness, 2019). Some examples of endurance and aerobic exercises are jogging, biking, and even swimming. One of the other main exercises that have been studied to decrease risks of cancer is the category of strength and resistance training (Exercise and Physical Fitness, 2019). These types of exercises aid in strengthening muscles. Examples of this type of training includes using resistance bands as well as lifting weights. A study performed by Hojman et al. in 2018 used rodents. The study found that the rodents showed exercise (aerobic) training decreased the tumor growths as well as the excessive division of cells (metastasis) (Hojman, et al., 2018). It has been proposed that exercise plays a role in reducing the progression of cancer (Hojman, et al., 2018).

            A study done in 2010 by Christine Friendenrich et al. examined the relationship of physical activity and the risk of breast cancer. Participants in this study were instructed to walk for a little over three hours a week for one year. These participants were postmenopausal ages fifty to seventy-four years old. After the year of testing was completed, the study proved that walking for a little over three hours a week does in fact lower the postmenopausal risk for breast cancer in women (Friendenrich et al. 2010). An article posted in 2013 by Douglas Gould et al. found that those with cancer lost 25-30% of their total body weight. This article states that resistance training exercise does in fact increase muscle mass, and therefore exercise should be used as a plan for early treatment for those diagnosed with cancer (Gould et al, 2013). The article also goes further in depth by going through the application of resistance training and what all resistance training entails with being a cancer patient. Studies have been completed to prove how resistance training increases lean body mass therefore increasing the completion rate of chemotherapy with individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer (Gould et al., 2013).

            Aerobic exercise training can also be connected in preventing and treating breast cancer (Schmitz, 2011). Kathryn Schmitz published an article in 2011 that connects aerobic exercise to the prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Schmitz explains that exercising for three hours or more in a single week could have major benefits for those who have survived breast cancer. Schmitz also states that there could be potential benefits for breast cancer survivors with those benefits being: decreased mortality and morbidity rates. With this being said, two separate studies (Hojman et al., 2018 and Gould et al., 2013) have brought up the fact that whether it be aerobic exercise, strength exercise, or even resistance training, breast cancer can be prevented by exercising – or even walking – for simply three hours every week. Even those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and they have survived it, participating programs can aid those survivors in not being diagnosed with breast cancer again.

            All in all, everyone can agree breast cancer is a terrible disease. With cancer not yet having a cure, every little bit of information can aid someone in changing their lives whether it is reducing their risk of being diagnosed with cancer or even reducing their risk of being diagnosed again after beating breast cancer already. One simple step for readers to take is simply to tell those who are diagnosed to walk for thirty minutes a day. Walking thirty minutes in a single day can decrease the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer (Booth et al., 2000). Take the first step, and make it a lifestyle change. This is a challenge for all readers – thirty minutes of walking a day, if you do not already do so. Reduce the risk of cancer by adding in a daily exercise.


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